“Indian Home Cooking Week” rolls on.
For why I’ve put “curry” in quotes in the title of this recipe see my prefatory comments in this post. And if you’re wondering about the “hybrid” part, it’s not in reference to the ancestry of the chicken I used (though it was probably a hybrid too); it’s in reference to the origins of this recipe. Like yesterday’s salmon recipe this one is also not a regional recipe. It is, however, a very conscious mixing of two approaches, one Bengali and one Malayali. The recipe gets underway more or less as in the style of an excellent recipe from one of my aunts, and is finished in a manner very common in Malayali cooking (Malayali= (of) the Malayalam speaking peoples of Kerala). I don’t usually go about trying to create hybrid or Indo-fusion dishes like this one but this one just works because there’s a strong crossover to begin with.
Let’s get to it.
- One chicken cut into 8 pieces, about 4 lbs (I used a mix of bone-in thighs and drumsticks)
- 1.5 cups thinly sliced onions
- 1.5 tblspns crushed ginger
- 1-2 small pieces of cinnamon or cassia bark
- 3-4 cloves
- 3-5 small green cardamom pods
- 3-5 dried red chillies
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tspn black/dark brown mustard seeds
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 cup coconut milk
Preparation (see illustrated guide below)
- Heat oil in a large pan and brown the chicken evenly and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add ingredients 4-7 to the pan. Saute till fragrant, being careful not to let them burn.
- Add 1 cup of the sliced onions and saute till it begins to brown around the edges.
- Add the crushed ginger, salt and a few grindings of pepper and saute for another minute or two.
- Return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer till the chicken is almost cooked through.
- The chicken will have given up a lot of moisture. To this add the coconut milk, stir, bring to a boil and then simmer till the chicken is done.
- When the chicken is almost done heat some oil in a small skillet and add the mustard seeds. They will begin to pop almost immediately. Throw in the onions and mix and add the curry leaves stripped from the sprigs. Saute for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.
- Pour the contents of the skillet over the cooked chicken and stir them in gently.
- Serve with steamed rice or parathas.
- When not extracting coconut milk from fresh coconuts I use Aroy-D’s 100% coconut milk in tetra-paks. These can be found in some Asian groceries and also on Amazon. The canned versions with additives and stabilizers that are more easily found in regular groceries—from Aroy-D or others—are too cloying to my palate.
- If you want to up the heat you can add some slit Thai chillies to the skillet along with the curry leaves.
- And speaking of curry leaves, make sure you have the right kind.
- Please use bone-in chicken as what you’re making here is sort of a reduced, intense stock. Also, use the best chicken you can—there are no aggressive flavours here to carry the bird and most supermarket chickens will also shed way too much liquid.
- It’s very unusual in most Indian cuisines to cook/eat chicken with the skin on. I’m just committed to saturated fat, and also was feeling lazy that day.
- I’ll get around to posting my aunt’s original recipe soon enough. Stay tuned.