Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Chicken Curry

South Indian curries tend to be more dilute and spicier than most, without compromising the flavours and taste. The key to a good curry is in balancing the flavours, aroma and using fresh ingredients. I would also advise using meat on the bone when making meat-based curries and allow them to simmer for some time; works better than stock cubes for flavour! This chicken curry is based on these techniques, and same applies to fish curries too.

While most curries are made with coconut milk or cream this recipe does not call for it, as I am adding ground cashew nuts for richness and body. Don’t let that stop you from adding a splash of coconut milk or regular milk in yours, especially if you want to calm the spice level down a notch.


600-800g chicken meat (on the bone if possible)
1 onion, sliced
5-6 garlic cloves
5-6 slices of ginger
1 large cinnamon stick
2-3 star anise
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 stalks of curry leaves, alternately you can use a few stalks of fresh, chopped coriander
2 large potatoes, skinned and cut into medium chunks
1 desert spoon turmeric powder
1-2 desert spoon chilli powder (use less or none if you prefer a mild curry)
4-5 desert spoon meat curry powder
2 desert spoon kurma curry powder
1 desert spoon coriander powder
2-3 large tomatoes, cut into quarters
5-6 cashew nuts, ground into a paste
½ lime juice
2-3 bowls of water

Clean and cut the chicken into small or medium pieces. Crush ginger and garlic into a paste using a mortar and pestle or a blender. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok over low heat. Sauté the cinnamon, fennel seeds and star anise for one minute, then add the onion, curry leaves and garlic and ginger paste. In two minutes, the sautéing ingredients should be fragrant, and the potatoes and chicken are added. Season with salt and pepper, stir well and leave the lid on for three to five minutes.

Mix all the curry powders with a bowl of water and pour it into the pot. Turn the heat up to medium and allow it simmer and boil for fifteen minutes. Spear the potatoes with a fork to check if they are cooked. When they are, add two more bowls of water (or to a desired thickness), tomatoes and ground cashew nuts to the boiling curry and allow to simmer for another ten minutes. Add lime juice and taste the curry, in case more seasoning is needed. Simmer for a few more minutes before removing from heat, and serve with roti or rice.

Tip: If using coconut cream or milk, add it about five minutes before taking the curry off the heat. Those who are substituting curry leaves with fresh coriander can add it to the curry at the same time as the tomatoes.

Chicken curry served with rice, french beans and papadum.

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