Tuesday, May 12, 2009
A weeknight Indian dish -- at last!
Indian food, if properly prepared, has such a rich, complex flavor that I can't get enough of. I've taken several classes at The Cooks Warehouse on North Indian cooking, and all that I've tried at home has been delicious, BUT it takes a lot of prep work and a lot of cook time -- not ideal for a weeknight after a long day at work. So, I was very pleased when I found the following recipe for Sindhi Chicken Curry. It has all the complexity of a slow-cooked, time-consuming Indian chicken dish without the hour of prep work, three hours of marinating, two hours of slow cooking, etc. In fact, the whole thing took a little under an hour to prepare. Check it out:
Sindhi Chicken Curry
1 cup plain yogurt -- room temp, stirred to a creamy consistency
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 Tablespoon ginger root, peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
4 teaspoons minced serrano chilies
12 large chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon coriander powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
28 oz diced tomatoes in liquid
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
*NOTE: I know this is a long ingredient list, however, once you have all of the spices in your spice cabinet it isn't too bad. I buy mine in bulk at the Dekalb Farmer's Market.
1. Stir yogurt and cornstarch together until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until beginning to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and saute onions until dark golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes longer.
The onions should look like this when you start:
They should look like this after caramelizing:
3. Stir in ginger, garlic, and chilies. Saute for two minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken and brown well, 6 to 8 minutes.
My pan was a little crowded, but I managed to get all the chicken thighs in!
Here they're starting to brown.
4. Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper over top of chicken. Mix well, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
The spices before they are added:
And the chicken after they've been stirred in:
5. Add tomatoes, yogurt mixture, 1/2 cup cilantro, and salt. Mix well. Cover and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is no longer pink inside, about 25 minutes.
7. Turn off heat. Stir in garam masala and 3 Tablespoons cilantro (or more to taste).
8. Garnish with remaining cilantro before serving. Serve with rice or any Indian bread.
As you can see, I served it atop basmati rice. I was very pleased with the result. It had a little heat, but that was cut by the yogurt. A few cashews or slivered almonds on top might liven up the texture, but it was very good as it was. AND totally do-able on a weeknight! (That's my favorite part -- can you tell?)
And now, a couple of notes:
It is important that the yogurt be at room temperature. If it is cold it has a better chance of curdling when it hits the hot pan. Just pull it out of the fridge when you start making the dish, and it should be ready by the time you need to add it. Removing it from the yogurt container and placing it near the warm stove should help speed up the process.
If you double the recipe, do not double the turmeric. It will make the dish too bitter if any more is added. (As a general rule, the amount of turmeric used should never be increased when doubling recipes.)
I enjoy eating the chicken thighs with the bone in, but some people find this to be too messy. There's no reason why you can't use boneless chicken thighs (or even chicken breasts, though they won't have the same depth of flavor) if you want a more fork-ready dinner.
Get ready for leftovers! This recipe makes a ton of food!