Sometimes all you need mid-week is a simple home cooked meal to make you happy. This chicken curry is just the thing when you’re pressed for time but you also do not want to settle for an unhealthy, packed dinner from outside. Food always tastes better when it’s made at home. Unless, of course, you’re going to a Michelin starred restaurant and you’ve to choose between sparkling and still water . And then pick a wine to go with your food and try not to embarrass yourself by pronouncing the names of the wines to your waiter. At which point you realize that you might as well have had THIS chicken curry ,at home. This chicken curry is not an award-winning dish but definitely a comforting and less-artery clogging alternative, which you don’t need to get dressed for. I like having my chicken curry on rice with some simple cabbage/carrot stir-fry, sour mango pickles (oorugai) and poppadoms (appalam) . No South Indian meal is complete without some crunchy poppadoms and sour pickles.
Easy and Light Chicken Curry
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 one-inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 2 medium red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 5 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 sprigs of curry leaves, leaves separated
- 3-4 heaped tbsp of meat curry powder, mixed with 3-5 tbsp warm water ( I use Earthern Pot brand)
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 1-1.3 kg chicken, chopped into pieces of roughly equal size, rinsed and patted with kitchen paper to remove any excess water
- 1/2 cup plain / natural / greek yoghurt
- 1/2 cup hot water
- salt to taste
- 2 medium baby potatoes, quartered
- 1 medium sized tomato, quartered
- 2 green chillies, split lengthwise
To begin, blend in a food processor ( or pound in a mortar and pestle ) all the garlic cloves, ginger and onions to make a paste. You could make more to keep in your fridge for making any stew or stir-frys.
To start making the chicken curry, in a heavy-based medium-large pot , heat the oil on medium-high heat. Using kitchen thongs, sear all the chicken pieces, skin side down, a few at a time until chicken skin is slightly browned but not fully cooked. If you did not pat dry the meat, there would be a plenty of oil spatter due to the moisture. Searing the meat allows for more flavour to develop, especially if you’re cooking the meat over a low heat for a long time, like in a stew. Remove all the browned chicken and place into a bowl and set aside.
Next, in the same pot, discard some of the oil (if you’re left with a lot), reduce heat to medium. Add the ginger-garlic-onion paste, green chillies, curry leaves and whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom and star anise) and sauté for about 2 minutes till they’re aromatic. Add curry powder-water mixture and fry for about 2-3 minutes. If it starts to brown too much, add a 1-2 tablespoons of warm water to prevent it from burning. Add sliced tomatoes and sauté till tomatoes turn into a pulp (just like 3rd picture from the top).
Add browned chicken, yoghurt and 1/2 cup of warm water and salt to taste. You can always add more salt after the curry is fully cooked.Stir gently to coat chicken with yoghurt. Add quartered potatoes. Simmer curry over low flame for about 30 minutes until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork and the meat is fully cooked. Check for seasoning after 30 minutes. Add quartered tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with plain rice or bread. The oil separation in a curry is normal as this is due to the curry paste fully cooking. In fact, in some traditional curry and sambal recipes, one knows the spices are properly cooked only when the oil separates. The extra oil comes from the chicken and some from the natural oils in spices. If you prefer to have lesser oil, you could also remove the chicken skin before cooking. It’ll be just as tasty. I’ve tried making this curry several times and with different brands of curry powder and each time they turn out delicious. The yoghurt gives the curry a mild tangy taste and makes a healthier alternative to full-fat coconut milk/cream. Even more reasons to try making this curry!