If I had to pick one type of cuisine that I’d love to know more about making from scratch, it would be Indian. Ever since the first time I tried Indian food, I have been in love with the exotic flavor combinations. The dish I crave most is malai kofta, or vegetarian dumplings in a rich, creamy sauce.
But I also love a good curry dish. I’ve started using more Indian seasonings such as turmeric and garam masala, and since I had those on hand — along with cumin and coriander — I decided recently to try a Fine Cooking recipe for North Indian Chicken Curry.
It smelled so good, but the resulting dish seemed to be missing something to me. I wanted to salt it more when it was on my plate, which is unusual for me. But that told me that I had not hit the mark for which I had aimed. I know one problem is that I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. I had breasts on hand and didn’t want to go to the store. But I feel like maybe something was missing in the sauce, too.
I’m going to share the recipe here because some of you may like it – I dunno, maybe it was just me. But I also want to share it in the hopes that someone who knows how to make great curry will have a look at it and tell me what they think I could do differently to make it better next time. I’ll bet I’m not the only one who could use a few tips!
North Indian Chicken Curry
Serves 5 to 6
2 Tbsp. canola or peanut oil (I used peanut)
2 cups finely chopped onions (from 2 medium onions)
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, at room temperature
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 to 2 hot fresh green chiles (such as serranos), minced
4 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, skin and excess fat removed
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. turmeric
3/4 tsp. cayenne
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, with juices
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (more for garnish)
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a deep, wide saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir to coat them with the oil. Spread in an even layer and cook for 2 minutes. Stir well, rearrange in an even layer again, and cook for 2 minutes. The onions should have begun to brown around the edges. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a rich brown, another 10 to 12 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary so the onions don’t burn.
Meanwhile, put the yogurt in a small bowl, stirring until it is creamy. Stir in cornstarch well.
Add ginger, garlic and chiles to the onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes so they meld with the onions. Add all the chicken thighs and cook, stirring occasionally, until they lose their raw color and begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan.
Add tomatoes and their liquid, the yogurt, the chopped cilantro and 2 tsp. salt. Stir well, cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and taste for salt.
To serve, sprinkle the garam masala over the dish and garnish with cilantro.
Source: Fine Cooking, Special Comfort Foods Issue, Soups & Stews 2010.