I say ‘Curry’; you say ‘Indian food’…one instantly brings the other to mind. In the world of Indian food, this is where it all starts. The curry popularly seen in most Indian restaurants is from the North of India. However, there are so many (I repeat, many) versions and adaptations of a ‘Curry’ from all parts of India, it could leave you confused (think: makhani, kadai, masala, balchao, vindaloo and similar delicious words on an Indian menu.)
Here’s our 5-step recipe for a ‘Basic Indian Curry’ using any meat, seafood or vegetables of your choice; the north Indian version we all know and love. One of the great aspects of a curry is that it picks up the flavor of the meat, seafood or vegetables, hence each one tastes unique. This recipe uses chicken and the must-have spices I mentioned in my post on Indian Spices. Married to a kitchen-savvy north Indian, I am fortunate to get firsthand information on the nuances of north Indian curries (and even luckier to have delicious food from the north of India made for me most weekends.)
Enjoy a warm bowl of chicken curry with brown rice this evening!
Serves 2-4 • Prep Time- 15 minutes • Hands-on cook time- 20 minutes
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into 2 inch pieces*
Juice of ½ a lime or lemon
3 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped or minced in a food processor
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (or 2 cloves minced garlic/ ½ inch grated ginger)
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon garam masala (Indian spice blend)
½ + ¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup canned tomato sauce (or 1-2 tomato pureed in a food processor)
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup cilantro leaves
Lemon wedges- to serve with the Curry
*We prefer skinless boneless thighs for our curries at home; they are more forgiving of longer cooking than chicken breast. However, this is also a great recipe to use a whole chicken cut into pieces with the skin and bones left on which lends more flavor to the dish.
In a bowl, stir the chicken with the juice of ½ a lemon/lime and ½ teaspoon salt. Leave this aside till it is required in step four.
In a sauté pan on a medium flame, heat canola oil. Add the onions, ginger garlic paste and sauté for 5-6 minutes till the onions are reddish-brown (that’s pretty well cooked.)
Add the dry spices and ¼ teaspoon salt, cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly so the spices don’t stick to the pan. (If they do, the next step will take care of it.)
Add the chicken and stir fry on a high flame till the chicken pieces are almost done, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato, ½ cup chicken broth and cilantro. Cover and cook to let the flavors blend for 5-7 minutes.
Serve hot with wedges of lemon on the side. Curry is best served with basmati rice or Indian flatbread (naan/chapatti.) One of my all-time favorites is curry with a crusty baguette.