Sunday, February 5, 2012

Currying Flavor

I swear I could eat Indian food every meal.  This particular curry began its life as a recipe for Chicken in Cashew Nut Sauce in Best Ever Indian Cookbook. Naturally, I'm unable to leave well-enough alone and tweaked (okay, okay substantially altered) the recipe until it became the curry that I wanted.  The result is a spicy, tomatoey chicken curry that pairs really well with homemade naan and mint chutney (someday I'll have a garden filled with herbs and mint leaves just so I can make this more). Unfortunately, because this is my own creation, the spices in the dish are added by a whole lot of instinct, but I'll do my best to condense them into tangible measurements. So, without further ado (well, maybe a little...), I give you my recipe for Curry Chicken with Almond Sauce.

What You'll Need
Measuring spoons                                                    Blender or Food Processor
Small bowl                                                               1 seriously large, deep skillet with lid
Cutting board                                                           Measuring cups
Knife for chopping
1 Tbsp cinnamon                                                     2 sweet yellow onions
2 tsp cardamom                                                       1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp ground coriander                                             5 chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin                                                               3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp salt                                                                   2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp curry powder                                               1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes                                         2 Tbsp fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 tsp turmeric                                                       1 6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 tsp chili powder                                                 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
Dash black pepper                                                   1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
Dash cloves                                                              1 cup golden raisins, packed

Now Let's Make Curry Chicken with Almond Sauce!
Yes, I forgot to take a different pic.
Whew. Deep breath.  Soooo... I hope you have a well-stocked spice cabinet (heh heh). First things first, let's do a little prep work.  Aren't you excited? (No?) See all those spices listed above on the left. Yeah those; measure them out into your small bowl. Don't be too careful about it; this is more kitchen witchery than chemistry, and a heaping spoon every now and again never hurt anyone.  For the cloves, I do about two shakes through the perforated lid. You don't want too much; keep in mind that cloves are a natural numbing agent. Using a measuring spoon, mix all the spices together in the bowl, then set them aside.

Sniff, snivel, sniff
Using your cutting board and knife, peel and dice the yellow onions.  Go ahead and scrape them into your blender or food processor when you're done.  If you're working with a food processor (you lucky thing) you can simply quarter the onions before putting them in. However, since a blender is more of a pain in the rear, dice the onions finely (guess which one I get to work with *twitch, twitch*).  When you're done with the onions, begin chopping the cilantro leaves until you've got about 1/4 cup.  Avoid the stems as much as possible. It should go without saying, but wash the cilantro first (my latest grocery store bunch was filthy!). Set the cilantro aside, and begin trimming any fat off the 5 chicken breasts.  Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Don't forget the lid!
Okay, so that was a whole lot of prep work.  Cover your blender and blend the onions until they are very small and there's a lot of juice. You don't want to liquify them, but you want them fairly mushy. Turn off the blender once your onions are done. Add your spice mix, 3/4 cup slivered almonds, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp fat-free yogurt, and 6 oz tomato paste to the blender.  Blend well until you have a very thick liquid/paste with few discernible parts.  Make especially sure that all the almonds are well blended; you don't want any chunks (nothing says tasty quite like chunks. Say it with me... chunks).

Mmmm... you saucy thing, you
Pour your spicy sauce into your large pan.  Saute over medium heat (just above your stove's middle setting) for about 2 minutes.  By cooking the spices before you add anything else, you better release their flavors.  You don't need to stir it constantly, but make sure to do so regularly or the sauce will scorch (and burnt is not a flavor we're going for).

After two minutes, add the chicken and cilantro and saute along with the spices until the chicken has cooked on the outside.  You'll know it's time to move on when all the chicken has turned white and no pink is showing on the outsides.  Now open the cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Drain the diced tomatoes over the sink (don't drain the tomato sauce, as that is self-defeating).  Add both cans to the curry and mix everything together well. Saute for a little longer at medium heat until the chicken is cooked through.

Measure out 1 heaping cup of golden raisins, packing them into the measuring cup by squishing them into the cup before adding more. The original recipe only called for 1 Tbsp of raisins, but they really make the dish (and, I clearly like raisins). Make sure to use golden raisins or sultanas, because regular raisins just aren't the same. (Please note that raisins cause kidney failure in pets!) Mix the raisins in well.  Cover the curry and reduce heat to low.
How does one say Voila! in Hindi?

Allow the curry to simmer while you finish the rest of the meal. Serve with fresh made naan, rice, and your choice of sides. Pictured here, you see mint chutney, aloo with cauliflower and mushrooms, ad brown rice. Now, try not to stuff yourself to bursting (it's only a thin mint).

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  1. Looks really good, Haley! I am glad that you are branching out and creating beyond recipes. When can I taste this one?

    1. I think you have already, but I lose track.

  2. Wow, this looks delicious. As a big Indian food fan, this will be happening as soon as I can get to the store and get the ingredients. Thanks for the post.

    1. Glad you liked it; I hope you find it as yummy as I do. Someday, when my camera has a new memory card and I can take more than 8 pics, I'll do the mint chutney and the naan on the blog, too.


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