Recently at work, Julia snagged a recipe from her colleague Sandeep, whose wife Shilpi is a fantastic cook and an expert on authentic Indian cuisine. Jumping at the opportunity to make an traditional curry dish at home, we of course pestered her for the recipe. She not only explained the whole process to us, but also shared a number of hard-to-find spices from her kitchen so that we could get it right.
We started off with the basic chicken curry, which is not difficult to make but definitely requires a commitment to chopping and measuring a variety of spices. It’s well worth the effort and we look forward to trying different variations!
Shilpi’s Chicken Curry
- Cooking oil – 1/2 cup
- One whole chicken cut up, skin and fat totally removed – small pieces (to give you an idea of the piece size – cut 1/2 chicken breast into 4 pieces, thigh and drum stick separated)
- Red onions — 2 extra large
- Fresh garlic pods – 5 grated
- Fresh ginger – 1 inch piece grated
- Serrano peppers – 2 whole
- cilantro, 2 table spoon finely chopped
- tomato puree – 1 cup
- coriander powder – 2 tablespoons
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Red chili powder – to taste (start with 1/2 tea spoon)
- Bay leaves whole – 2
- Black pepper – 4-5 whole
- Cloves – 4-5 whole
- black big cardamom – 2
- small green cardamom – 4
- Amchur – 1 tea spoon
- Methi leaves – 2 tablespoons
- Garam Masala – 2 teaspoons
Chop 2 large red onions (or 4 medium) – for a good gravy, the chopped onion pieces should be consistent (not some very fine and some large). Put cooking oil in a pan (I use olive oil), when hot put chopped onion and saute till it is light brown on 3/4 gas burner power, not on “full” flame), stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and cover, adding 1/4 cup water.
When water reduces to 1/2 the amount, add freshly grated garlic and ginger, Serrano peppers stir well.
After almost all the water evaporates, add Dhaniya powder (ground coriander seeds), haldi (Turmeric powder), laal mirch (red chili powder) whole bay leaves 2, 4-5 whole cloves and whole black pepper (not ground) big and small cardamom.
Add 4 tablespoons of water. Cover and simmer for 3-4 min on low heat. Add a cup of tomato puree, stir well. Add dry Methi leaves, crushed. Add Amchur powder (dry raw mango powder). Stir well, adding 1/2 cup of water. Increase the heat and add cut up chicken pieces. (chicken with bones taste better and more flavorful but boneless chicken can be added if that is the preference). Mix well. Add salt and 2 cups of water. cover and let it cook on medium heat till chicken is fully done and fork tender. Stir occasionally. Add zafrani garam masala. Mix well. Taste the gravy and adjust salt if needed.
Spoon out the bay leaves, big and small cardamons, cloves and pepper before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro after transferring it into a serving dish.
Serve hot either with roti, naan or steamed rice.
If serving with roti/naan (bread) keep the gravy slightly thick, otherwise leave it a little watery if serving the curry with rice.
This is a basic curry recipe. Other things can be added in place of chicken… like mixed root vegetables (turnip,potatoes+yucca root etc), paneer (Indian fresh cheese)+peas, cauliflower+potatoes+carrot+peas combination etc.
You may also do variations to the curry recipe by adding either chopped capsicum cubes (bell pepper) to make “chicken capsicum” or add nut butters (like cashew or almond) and reduce the quantity of tomato puree for a totally different results, or add cooked potatoes (for chicken vindaloo) or add heavy cream to give a creamy taste and look… instead of chicken, cut up paneer cubes can be added with peas to make matar paneer.