Sunday, October 28, 2012

Indian Chicken Tomato Curry- You'll Love It!

Indian Chicken Tomato Curry with vegetarian and chickpea curries.
This curry is an old standby.  Rich, creamy, as spicy as you like and so easy to make.  Perfect as the centerpiece for an Indian dinner or to bring to a potluck.  Your friends will be asking for this recipe!

The thing is, you could use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe, dredge them in flour and brown.  But I think that, in exchange for convenience, you miss out on flavour from the bones and the skin.  But, the chicken skin is also fatty.  So, I have added an extra step which is outlined below.

To serve 12.

12     5-oz skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I prefer bone-in and skin-on for added flavour and, for the same reason, I also prefer thighs and drumsticks- aim for about 8 oz per serving if you decide on bone-in)
salt and freshly ground black pepper.
flour for dredging
1     stick (4 ounces) of unsalted butter
5     medium onions, finely chopped
6     garlic cloves, minced
1     tbsp ginger, finely grated
1/2  tsp ground cumin
1/2  tsp cumin seeds
1/2  tsp turmeric
cayenne pepper
1     35-ounce can of tomatoes, coarsely crushed, with their liquid
2     cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/2    cup brown sugar
1     tbsp tomato paste
1     tsp crushed red pepper
1     tsp saffron threads
1/2  tsp ground cardamom
1/4  tsp ground cloves
1/4  tsp ground nutmeg

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and coat them lightly with flour, shaking off the excess.  Melt 4 tbsp of the butter in a large skillet.  Add 6 of the chicken pieces and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until the chicken is golden, about 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the chicken to a large plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.   If you have chosen to use skin-on chicken, remove the skin when it is cool enough to handle.  Drain off the chicken fat from the bottom of the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon.

Browning the chicken pieces
Melt the remaining butter in the skillet.  Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. If you removed the skin from the chicken, add about one tablespoon of flour at this point (stir into the onion mixture and cook for about 1 minute) to help thicken the sauce.

In a heavy casserole, drizzle a little safflower oil and when it is moderately hot, add the ground cumin, cumin seeds, turmeric, and 1/4 tsp cayenne and cook, stirring,  for 1 minute or until the spices are fragrant.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes and stock.  Transfer the onion mixture to this casserole.

Add the chicken breasts to the casserole.  Simmer over moderately low heat for 10 minutes,  Stir in the sour cream, yogurt, brown sugar, tomato paste, crushed red pepper, saffron, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.  Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes longer; the sauce will not be completely smooth.  Season with salt, and more cayenne, or some of the other spices, if needed.  Serve the chicken with basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.  Enjoy!

Wanna play?
To make satisfy your inner vegetarian :-), I would replace the chicken with eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch by 4 inch sticks (dredge them in flour if you like) and fried in oil.  Added to that could be mushrooms, cauliflower flowerettes, zucchini, butternut squash, peas, either individually or a mixture of these vegetables.  Grill them lightly before adding them to the simmering sauce.  Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and you have an amazing vegetarian curry!

Vegetarian version of this curry- roasted eggplant, cauliflower, small potatoes and peas.
You could also use a tender cut of beef instead of the chicken.  Dredge your beef cubes with flour, brown and continue the recipe as above.

This recipe is based on one from Food and Wine.

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