Curry in a Hurry (sort of)

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Another day, another weekday meal.

Thursday’s are family split days. My wife heads off to yoga, while my daughter heads off to art class. I’m usually forced to make at least two separate meals–one before 6:00 pm when my daughter leaves and one after 7:00 pm when my wife returns. Keeping with the family tradition of always eating with at least one other family member, I usually prepare the kids an early meal and my wife and I a late one.

After a quick kids’ meal (today’s was fried ramen), I put on a pot of rice and dropped my daughter off at class. After returning home, I poured myself a drink and set to making a curry. I had chicken backs in the refrigerator,  so I went with that as the base.

Recipe: Andhra Pradesh Chicken

Spice Blend:

  • 2 tsp Amchur powder
  • 2 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 2 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp Hot Indian paprika (or 1/2 to 1 Tsp dried chilies ground)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg, ground
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 Tsp Tumeric, ground

Marinade

  • 3 heaping tsp spice blend
  • 1 Tbs Light cooking oil
  • 1 tsp White vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbs Sambal oelek

Sauce

  • 4 Medium to large pieces of chicken, skinless bone in
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1″ pc Ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3-4 Tbs light cooking oil (canola)
  • 10 Kari (curry) leaves
  • 2 Medium onions chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 c of finely chopped red bell peppers (or other vegetables)
  • 1-2 Tbs Sambal oelek (optional)
  • 1 15oz Can of diced tomatoes (or 2 lg tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 c Chicken stock
  • Water
  • 2 Black cardomen pods, lightly crushed
  • 1/2-1 tsp Black pepper, fresh coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp Black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • Balance of spice blend

Method:

  1. Prepare spice blend
  2. If using skin-on chicken remove skin and reserve
  3. Mix Marinade ingredients in a small bowl
  4. Combine chicken and marinade in a plastic bag, remove excess air and work the bag to distribute marinade evenly over the chicken and marinate for 1-4 hours
  5. Remove chicken from bag and grill or BBQ over medium heat until fully cooked (I usually do 10 min. bone side down, 10 min. meat side down and if necessary 5 min bone side down)
  6. While chicken is cooking start the sauce
  7. In a wok over a medium-high element heat oil
  8. Add kari leaves, cumin seed, and mustard seed and saute until the begin to crackle (a minute or two)
  9. Add onions and saute until just beginning to brown
  10. Add garlic and finely chopped bell peppers if using and saute one to two minutes more
  11. Add remaining spice blend, grated ginger, sambal, and cardamon pods and stir for one to two minutes until well combined
  12. Add tomatoes and combine
  13. Add a little water and a 1/4 c of the stock and bring to a low boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes adjusting heat as required
  14. Add stock as required during cooking process to keep the sauce consistent
  15. Taste and adjust salt level and acid balance if required (use a very small amount of brown sugar if the sauce is too sour)
  16. Add grilled chicken to the wok, coat it in the sauce, and add fresh ground black pepper
  17. simmer for five minutes, and serve

Notes: I’ve modified this recipe so much from its original form it bears only a passing resemblance to it–originally it called for cooking the chicken in the sauce and adding much more water to it, but I found the recipe above makes for a much more flavourful and richer curry. The above recipe calls for a long marinating time, but mine only sat in the bag for only 20 minutes while I prepared the vegetables–just do your best. I don’t mention it under the methods section, but if you have reserved chicken skin you can add one or two pieces to the sauce during the cooking process to add some depth–just remove it before serving. If you want to drop the heat level, reduce the amount of sambal and/or substitute Spanish or Hungarian paprika for the Indian Paprika (which is very hot). I would still add a 1/2 teaspoon or so of the ground chilies, as the flavour is essential for this dish. Keep in mind that the spice blend shown is more or less a personal preference. You can use garam masala in place of the cinnamon, nutmeg, amchur powder and some of the ground cumin and coriander if that’s your preference as well–I don’t because I find the cloves used in most garam masala to be too much for the chicken.

Tip: Always add fresh ground black pepper to a dish in the last ten minutes or less of cooking to preserve its delicate fresh flavour.

This dish serves four. Pair with a dry Belgium style blond ale (i.e. Fin-de-Monde) or a crisp spicy Indian lager (i.e. Kingfisher).

Adapted from Das Sreedharan, Indian Shortcuts to Success, “Marinated chicken with hot pepper sauce,” pp. 128-129, 2005.

Aaron

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