Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rustic Chicken Curry

Over the holidays we attended a few parties. It was heartening to hear that a lot of youngsters(meaning people in their 20s and 30s) are cooking. One of them even said she found her boyfriend rather cute because he learned to cook from his mom. So young men out there that is an incentive to learn cooking yes?

Quite a few of them say they love Indian food but don't know where to start. These are not novice cooks but cooks who are good at cooking good food in their own way of course. I try explaining to them how easy it can be. Most have glazed eyes after a few instructions

I am not exactly sure, is it the name of all the exotic spices or the sauteing part that gets to them. Or maybe it is the blending of spices that throws them? Let me know what makes you run scared of making an Indian dish? Maybe I can help.

Not all chicken curries are made equal. I am splitting them into two broad categories as North Indian and South Indian for now. They are multitude of variations but the difference is in the most broadest sense. Add in regional variations and favorites like Vindaloo and Chicken Chettinad the tastes and textures are indeed mind boggling. One basic difference between the two major ones is the usage of tomatoes for the curry/gravy. In the North style a lot of tomatoes and onions are cooked down to make the curry whereas in the South Indian, onion is used tomatoes are used are not used and if used they are smaller in quantity. Coconut is used a lot to make the curry.

When coconut became an unhealthy food for a while what with the fear of cholesterol and such I started adding tomatoes to the chicken curry to reduce the quantity of coconut but now armed with better knowledge I use coconut as much as is required.

Rustic Chicken Curry
1. 4 Chicken Thighs with the drumstick approximately 1 1/2 pounds
2. 1 medium sized red onion chopped fine (separate about 2 tbsp for the paste)
3. 8 garlic cloves chopped (separate about 6 for the paste)
4. 1 1/2 chopped (for the paste)
5. 1/2 tbsp chicken masala powder (any brand)
6. 1/2 tsp garam masala powder (recipe below)
7. salt to taste
8. 2 tsp of turmeric powder (see Note)
9. 3 tsp of oil
10. seasonings: bay leaves, fennel seeds , cumin seeds and curry leaves

For the Paste
1. 3/4 tbsp coriander seeds
2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
3. 1/2 tbsp pepper corns
4. 6 dry red chilies (substitute with 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper)
5. 1/4 grated fresh or frozen coconut

In a pan heat about 1/4 tsp oil and add in the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, pepper corn and saute for a minute followed by the red chilies saute for a minute more. Set aside.

Add a bit more of the oil and add in 2 tbsp of the chopped onion, 5 cloves of the garlic and ginger, saute till the onions start to get a bit brown on the edges. Now add in the coconut and saute till the coconut starts getting a tiny shade of brown.

Cool and blend to a paste with 2 tbsp or less of water.

Garam Masala Powder
1. 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
2. 4-6 cloves
Roast the above and blend to a powder

1. In a heavy bottomed pan add in the rest of the oil and when hot add the seasonings. Add in the garam masala. Let them sit in the hot for about 30 seconds.
2. Now add in the onions and let them get translucent. Add in the garlic and ginger. Saute for a minute more.
3. Add in the washed chicken, sprinkle the turmeric powder on them and saute for 4-5 minutes till the chicken loses the pink color.
4. Add the chicken masala powder and cayenne pepper if using and stir to coat.
5.Now add the blended paste with 1 1/2 cups of water. (see note)
6. Add salt and let it cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Serve with steamed white rice.

1. Wash the chicken with turmeric in water.
2. Store bought garam masala has a few more ingredients. I like the milder one.
3. The amount of water to be added depends on how thick or thin you want the curry to be.


  1. Here also everybody says they like indian food but don't know how to make or were to start and dont have the spices etc....
    Curry looks super yumm. I lov echicken curries like this.

  2. Curry looks delicious,,,:)

  3. I rarely use coconut but mom and aunts still use it. For the gravy, I also add yogurt, apart from onion & tomato. Tomato us optional though, it depends on my mood

  4. I love the name "Rustic" to chicken curry. Yum.

  5. I'm with Sandeepa, "rustic" opened my eyes wide even before I got to the tasty part :) ISG you always cook the dark meat chicken, my favorite! This curry goes to the top of the list.

    Biggest thing that intimidated me about cooking Indian at first was the grinding. Once I found the little kitchenaid grinder, there was no stopping. From there it's an easy step to a mixie :)

  6. Give me a chicken curry with coconut any day - and no, its not unhealthy only if you don't know to balance out one's dietary requirements!

    I think its important to have some sense of basic cooking if one wants to get familar with indian cooking - its not that its complicated, just different from the usual roasting / grilling/stewing methods one is used to. We build up a lot of different layers of flavours in each of our dishes - first the tempering, then the sauteeing or bhunao and then the braising.

  7. Slurp,fingerlicking chicken curry.

  8. yummy chicken curry..I sometimes roast dhalia/chutneydhal/pottukadalai along with grinding masala instead of coconut.there's not much of a difference :).

  9. I hear a mix of interest in cooking, but it always makes me happy when somebody expresses an interest. Your curry looks delicious.


Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate you taking the time.
Comments embedded with links, spam and in poor taste will not be published.