Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anglo-Indian Cuisine: Chicken Curry for Beginners

The building blocks of authentic, regional Indian curries - and this Anglo-Indian version popularized throughout England by the late 19th-century - are similar. Onions, garlic, ginger and chilies provide the base flavors while we'll use the Anglicized spice blend known as Madras curry powder instead of a plethora of the usual East Asian seasonings like black mustard seeds, coriander and cumin et. al.


above two photos: When thickening and concentrating any curry sauce via boiling, always remove any meats or vegetables BEFORE proceeding with this final step to avoid overcooking.

Cafe Drake HRV's Anglo-Indian Chicken Curry is milder on the palette than most and full of friendly, familiar spices for those less accustomed to subcontinental fare. Make no mistake it's still delicious and best served with simple, traditional accompaniments like sweet mango chutney, boiled rice and yogurt. Victorians would have also included toasted coconut and sliced bananas as optional garnishes.

Perfect for beginning chefs and anyone daunted by the complexity of Indian spicing, Let's begin making our curry. Preheat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet (or wok or, in an emergency, a regular non-stick skillet) over a medium-high flame for a couple of minutes. Drizzle down the sides 2 T. vegetable oil (grape seed has a higher smoking point but canola etc. will suffice) and immediately add: 1 small red onion (sliced), 4 cloves of garlic (minced finely), 1 green chili (diced) and 2-3 T. ginger (minced or grated). Stir until light brown but not burned and then add 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces. Sprinkle everything with 2 t. Madras curry powder and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to sear the meat on all sides. Season with 1 1/2 t. (or more to taste) salt and pour in 1/4 cup coconut milk (canned). Everything should come to a boil instantly. Now turn the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is just cooked. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a small bowl. Return the heat to medium-high and boil the sauce until thickened, stirring now and then as needed. This should take less than 5 minutes total. Remove the pan from heat and toss in the cooked chicken. Stir in 1 cup chopped tomatoes (any kind) and about 3 T. minced cilantro. Serve hot but may also be reheated over a few days without flavor loss.

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