Discover Secrets of Indian home food

Recipe:

House Chicken Curry

I think all of us, my siblings, were teethed on chicken drumsticks as babies – no mind for health and safety or choking hazards back then! Baby is teething, and highly irritable, thrust a chicken bone at the little tinker to gnaw on!

I wouldn’t recommend bones for teething, but you get the giste that we Indians grow up eating meat on the bone; this would be a whole chicken that the butcher would cut into pieces. We would also have ‘tharri’ or soup from an older chicken (what mum calls a boiling chicken, that is older and takes longer to cook) this is essentially a spicy chicken soup that also includes potatoes.

As my own family will not tolerate the ‘hadi’ or bone, I always use chicken thighs – breast is simply too dry and not as flavoursome a cut as thigh – we use boneless and skinless thigh fillets.

Ingredients

  • 8 skinless and boneless chicken thigh fillets cut into bite size pieces (allow for 2 thighs per person)
  • 1 large finely chopped onion
  • x2 cubes minced garlic
    (1 and a half tsp per frozen cube)
  • x2 cubes minced ginger
    (1 and a half tsp per frozen cube)
  • 2 tsp minced chillies (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp whole cumin
  • 5 green cardamom pods
    (smash open in pestle and mortar)
  • 2 inch piece cassia bark
  • 1 and a half tsp turmeric
  • 1 and a half tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp maldon salt
  • x3 ladels of tinned tomatoes (blitz for smoother sauce)
  • 2 tbs greek yoghurt
  • chopped coriander – stalk and leaves
    (1 pinch of stalks, 2 pinches leaves or to taste)
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • 0.5 – 1 cup of water for the ‘gravy’ or sauce
Prep Time:
5-10 minutes
Cooking Time:
35-40 minutes
Serves:
4
Cook’s Tip:

Blitzing the tinned tomatoes in a food processor or with a stick blender will give you a smoother sauce.

Serving Suggestion:

Serve with freshly cooked chapattis (or rice if you prefer), a side salad kissed with lemon juice and sea salt, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Method

1. Clean the chicken thighs under cold water. Now cut into bite sized pieces removing any excess fat as you do so. Set aside.

2. Pretty much every curry starts with a ‘tarka’ which is the flavour foundation. Take a medium-large lidded sauce pan, fry the chopped onion, cassia bark, cardamom pods and cumin seeds in some vegetable oil. Cook on a moderate heat until the onions become translucent and soft.

3. Next add the garlic, ginger and minced chillies (remember you can add more chillies later if needs be). Allow to cook out.

4. Now add the garam masala and turmeric. If the pan is too dry add a splash of water so the spices don’t stick to the pan and burn. Allow the spices to cook out, then add in the chopped coriander stalks.

5. Then put in the tomatoes. Increase hob heat, and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. When you can see oil on the surface of the spiced tomato mixture/the oil has taken on the tomato colour, that means it’s cooked and ready to taste. Check your seasoning here. If it needs more chillies add now. I season with salt at the end of the cooking for meat dishes, to ensure it does not toughen the meat.

6. Place in the chicken and mix together coating all the pieces. Also mix in the yoghurt and a splash of water. Beware of adding too much water as the meat will shrink and also release water during cooking. (If you do add too much water you can correct at the end by simmering for an additional time, pan uncovered, and reduce the sauce).

7. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover the saucepan with a lid, and allow chicken to cook through for 30 minutes or until cooked and you are happy with a soft and giving texture! Appliances will vary, and check halfway in case you need to add a touch more water.

8. Finally add your salt, season to taste, and scatter with a flurry of chopped coriander leaves.