This morning I woke up to thoughts of pristine white sand, turquoise waters, barefoot walks on the beach, and the blissful beauty of seclusion. Such is life lately—fairy tale dreams and thoughts of paradise. Yes, paradise.
So, the sweet flurry of the holiday season has come to an end. Giving way to the flurry of everyday things—early mornings and busy roads, emails and meetings, more emails and meetings, and deadlines, and many cups of coffee.
I am home on this beautiful January afternoon, enjoying the last few days of my staycation. Among other things, there was a fleetingly short trip to Kerala, with just enough time to wander out to the rustic paddy fields, breathing in the fresh country air, watching the rhythm of the swaying coconut grooves, relishing the taste of homemade food, and a happily losing myself on the beach at sunset—the sunset before the dawn of 2016.
Talking of home, and Indian, no Indian meal is complete without curry. Curry is central to the cuisine, and chicken is an obvious choice when you think of cooking Indian at home. It is always a crowd pleaser, and besides, there’s nothing like a deliciously spicy chicken curry for a full on kick in the depths of winter.
Making a curry at home from the scratch doesn’t have to be intimidating. Some curries are a breeze to prepare, and others are labor intensive, like the one I am sharing today. The list of ingredients may look daunting, but the freshly ground spices and aromatics spark up the flavor and make the end result even more enjoyable.
I used boneless breast meat. You could skip the boneless, and use bone-in meat instead—just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Kashmiri chilies can be found in Indian specialty shops or online. The ingredients are a wonderful mix of color, flavor and heat. If you don’t have a heat-proof tongue, then skip the fresh green chili, and use more of coconut cream or coconut milk.
I’m a sucker for spicy dishes and this once comes out beautifully flavored. The recipe is adapted from 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Punjabi.
P.S. I went a little crazy with the pictures and styling. Oh boy, how much I’ve missed this!
Parsee Red Chicken Curry
(Adapted from 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Punjabi)
Prep 10 mins (not including soaking), cooking about 40 mins
6 dried Kashmiri red chilies (or use fresh red chilies)
½ tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut cream (I used Eastern)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
3 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ inch cassia bark or cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
½ tablespoon peeled and crushed fresh ginger
3 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped
½ cup onions, coarsely chopped
1 fresh green chili (optional)
2 ½ tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
450 gm chicken cut into medium sized pieces, skin removed (I used boneless breast pieces)
1 large tomatoes, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
Salt, to taste
Small handful coriander leaves, crushed almonds, and thinly sliced coconut flesh, to garnish
Soak the Kashmiri chilies in a little warm water for 15 minutes to soften.
First, grind the cumin, coriander, sesame, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon and cardamom to a fine powder. In a blender of food processor, puree the Kashmiri chilies, ginger, garlic, green chili (if using), onion, tamarind paste and the ground spice mix with ¼ cup of water to make a paste.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Scrape out the spice paste and cook, stirring, for about 6 minutes. Add the chicken and cook in the paste for about 5 minutes, turning sides. Then add the tomatoes and season well and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the coconut milk, reduce heat, and leave to simmer until the chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes or so. Stir in the garam masala, and season to taste.
If you can’t take the heat, dilute with coconut cream according to your tolerance.
Serve hot with rice or roti. Sprinkle with coriander leaves, crushed almonds and coconut slices, if you like.