Friday, 6 April 2012

Chicken Varuval

Varuval, or very dry curry requires very long, slow cooking and preferable in a good non-stick pan, but the result will be worth your while. This south Indian food is something you can find in nearly all non-vegetarian banana leaf restaurants*.

1/2 chicken, preferably still on its bones, cut into small pieces and cleaned
1 large onion, sliced
3 cm ginger
5 garlic cloves
3 dried chillies, coarsely chopped
a handful of curry leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
2 tablespoon chilli powder
3/4 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 tablespoon meat curry powder
2 tomatoes, quartered 
salt and pepper

Blend the ginger and garlic into a paste. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan, fry the blended paste with fennel seeds, cinnamon and star anise. Next, the onions and chillies are added and fried for a minute before putting the chicken in. Place a lid on and leave it cooking for five minutes. 

Then add seasoning and stir in half the curry leaves. Mix the chilli, turmeric and curry powders with half a cup of water and pour the mixture into the pan. The tomatoes are added to the pan at this point. Put the lid back on and cook further for ten minutes.

Remove the lid and cook until most of the water has evaporated and the gravy is very dry, stirring occasionally to avoid it burning. Add the rest of the curry leaves just before removing the pan from heat. This chicken varuval is best served with rice.

* For those who aren't familiar with banana leaf cuisine, it is a South Indian custom of serving rice, curry and side dishes on a banana leaf used as a plate. Eaten with your right hand, food is said to taste better this way.

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