Sunday, April 16, 2017

Meera Sodha's Chicken Curry

My love for Indian food runs deep and true, but as of late, I've been eating less and less of it, mainly because my Seamless/Caviar/Postmates usage has dwindled to almost nothing--a side effect of my overall attempt to be healthier in 2017. Often, the Indian takeout I get, while undoubtedly delicious, leaves me fulling stuffed, bloated, and sleepy, leaving me to wonder what exactly these restaurants are putting into their food. Is it tons of cream? Butter? An extravagance of salt? And then I thought, Why wonder when I can make it myself? And so, after a bit of research, I landed upon this recipe from Meera Sodha, a British cookbook author, who derived it from a dish her Indian-born mother used to make for her. The best recipes come from mums, I tend to think, and this one is no exception. It's luscious and comforting, and so much better than ordering takeout from an app. It's also fairly quick and simple to make--I managed it for an after-work Thursday night dinner. Here's the recipe.

Meera Sodha's Chicken Curry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
1 tablespoon neutral oil, like canola
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cinnamon sticks, approximately 2 inches long
2 large white or yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 2 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or minced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 green jalapeƱo peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into half-moons
Kosher salt, to taste
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pureed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons whole-milk yogurt, plus 1 cup to serve with the meal
1 3/4 to 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 teaspoon garam masala
Pinch ground cayenne pepper, to taste

Melt the butter or ghee in the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat, and when it is hot and shimmering, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Cook for a minute or two, stirring often, to intensify their flavors, then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally until they are golden, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, and peppers into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt, and smash them together into a coarse paste. (Full disclosure: I just threw it all into my food processor and pulsed until it was as smooth as it was going to get.)

Add the past to the onions, and cook for 2 minutes or so, then pour in the tomatoes, and stir. Allow to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, then add the tomato paste, ground cumin, ground turmeric and another pinch of salt, and stir to combine.

Add the yogurt slowly to the mixture, using a wooden spoon to whisk it into the sauce. It may be quite thick. When it begins to bubble, add the chicken. Lower the heat, put the lid on the Dutch oven and allow the curry to cook gently for 30 minutes or so, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the almonds and the garam masala, along with a pinch of cayenne, and cook for 5 minutes more or so. Serve with basmati rice or naan, and the additional yogurt.