Recipe of the week
Chicken curry: A home version simple enough to become habit
“I love food that I can eat out of a bowl,” said Swayampurna Mishra in My Indian Kitchen (Page Street Publishing). “There’s something so easy and comforting in digging into a bowl of deliciousness and finishing it a spoonful at a time.”
The dish below is one of the simplest Indian curries to make—so simple that, provided you have the spices, you will end up making it quite often, even for weeknight dinners. It’s “spicy yet not searingly hot, well balanced and full of sumptuous, mouthwatering flavors.” You can serve it with roti or naan, but it goes especially well with a fragrant rice pulao, or pilaf.
Pepper and garlic chicken curry
2–3 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt (as needed)
1 tbsp ground turmeric
Juice of 1 small lemon, divided
1½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 large onions, thinly sliced
12 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
¾ cup low-fat coconut milk
Small bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (for garnish)
Combine peppercorns, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds in a small, dry skillet and toast for 1 minute over medium-high heat, until spices are fragrant. Remove spices and grind them into a coarse powder in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle.
Transfer ground spices to a large mixing bowl and add coconut oil, salt, turmeric, and half the lemon juice. Stir to make a paste. Add the chicken to the bowl, mix everything well, and cover the bowl. Place bowl in the refrigerator and let chicken marinate at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
After the chicken has marinated, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. While chicken is coming to room temperature, remove curry leaves from their stalks. Set them aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add black mustard seeds and curry leaves. Sauté until mixture is fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and fry gently over low heat, until soft and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add chicken along with marinade. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes on medium-high. Add coconut milk, bring curry to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. (For a drier version of the curry, continue to cook on high heat for 5 minutes to reduce gravy.)
Turn off heat and stir in remaining lemon juice. Garnish with cilantro and accompany with pulao or flatbread of your choice. Serves 4. ■