Curry in a hurry..
Did l mention l love Indian food! The simplest to prepare, the heartiest of flavors, and with a well stocked spice pantry you are set and ready for action, with an additional knob of ginger and handful of garlic. And its a penny pinching delight!
- Top of the list - do not be afraid to use plenty of salt. l will explain in a bit, but if you are nervous about salt then your spices will not shine through. Leaving you with a pretty bland bowl of food.
- Toast the spices in a dry sauté pan before you start.
- Invest in a cheap coffee grinder to use for the whole spices. And a small food processor for the ginger/garlic paste.
- Brown the ginger/garlic paste well - it will make all the difference depth wise to the curry.
- Always have Tamarind paste handy in the fridge. Most upscale supermarkets have it in the Asian section. And it can turn a mediocre dish into a Pinballs one with just a spoonful. Not for all dishes...but have it handy.
- l tend to like most curries the day after. The flavours marry better overnight l think.
- Last - If there ever comes a time your curry comes up a wee bit too spicy...add sugar!
So lets start with one of my favorites and possibly one of the easiest to prepare. l have written the ingredients in order of prep to make things easier. lm dyslexic and wish all recipes were broken up like this for me...
- 3 inche piece of fresh ginger washed and cut into chucks (no need to peel if organic)
- 10 peeled garlic gloves
- 1-2 skinny green chiles deepening on your heat preference. l like 2.
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 3 inche piece of cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp red chile powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 5 tsps coriander seeds
- 3 Tbsp neutral oil (Veg, grape seed, sunflower)
- 1 onion diced
- 3lbs chicken thighs skinned and boned, cut into small chunks (l have my butcher prep it)
- 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into wedges.
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 Tbsp Tamarind paste
- Bunch fresh cilantro chopped ( 1/2 for the dish, the other to garnish)
- Using a small food processor, make a fine paste with the garlic and ginger, add a little water to bring it together. l add the fresh chile at this point too.
- Grind up the whole spices. Heat a small sauté pan dry and add the spices. You will smell when they are toasted - but give it a good 1-2 mins if unsure.
- Take a large dutch oven pan, med high heat and add the oil. When the oil begins to glisten add the onion, a good pinch of salt and toasted spices. You don't want to burn the onion so keep it moving and turn heat down if browning too quick. You also need to add a little more oil if its too dry. Use your judgement. Around 5 minutes and you should be in business.
- Add the ginger paste and cook until just golden...about 3-4 minutes (rely on your sense of smell here and get an idea of when it really has blossomed, you will do the same when it comes to salting the dish).
- Now add the chicken (some dishes l brown the meat before starting..not this one), give the dish a good turn over and brown the meat in the spice mixture with another good pinch of salt. Once browned - add the Tomatoes and enough water to just cover the meat (or use chicken stock if you like)
- Lid on and turn down to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes.
- Lid off and increase the heat to brown the sauce. 3-4 minutes
- Add the Garam Masala, tamarind paste, and 1/2 of the chopped cilantro.
- Time to taste and salt the dish. If you cannot taste the spice/heat in the dish you need to start adding salt tsp at a time (and you will need to). All of a sudden the dish will pop with flavour when you have seasoned correctly. May take time - but be patient...its worth it.
- A nice bowl of fluffy basmati rice, curry on top, and a sprinkle of cilantro