Chicken Curry with Peanut Butter


I made a somewhat involved chicken curry for a dinner party last week. Made in a Hyderabadi style it involved roasting and then making a paste of sesame and peanuts and various spices. It turned out very well and as we were eating I began to think of a simpler version I could make for more everyday cooking and which might be a little more kid-friendly. This recipe was the result of that thinking. It sits somewhere between that more complex Hyderabadi prep and a “white” chicken prep that one of my aunts is famous for (and which I’ve hybridized before). It involves very few ingredients and only whole spices. And if you have a good not-too chunky peanut butter at hand you’re well past the starting line. Give it a go. It’s very tasty and goes well with rice or parathas—or for that matter you could sop it up with dinner rolls. 

Ingredients

  • 6 large chicken drumsticks, skin removed
  • 2 tblspns full-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 tspn red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tspn grated ginger
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 dried tej patta/cassia/Indian bay leaves
  • 3-4 pods green cardamom
  • 1 large stick cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tblspns peanut butter
  • 1/2 lb potato
  • 2 green chillies, slit (optional)
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tblspns chopped dhania/cilantro

Preparation

  1. Make shallow slashes in the chicken and mix well with the next five ingredients. Let it marinate for an hour.
  2. In a pan that can hold all the chicken comfortably in one layer heat the oil over medium heat and add the whole spices.
  3. As they become aromatic add the sliced onion and salt. Saute over medium heat till beginning to soften and brown.
  4. Add a few grindings of black pepper and mix well.
  5. Now add the chicken with all its marinade and continue to saute, stirring constantly till the chicken begins to give up its water.
  6. Add the peanut butter and mix thoroughly. Continue to saute till you see some oil beginning to separate.
  7. Add the water and the potatoes, mix thoroughly, throw in the green chillies if using, cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat till the chicken is done. Stir every 10 minutes or so to make sure the sauce is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Garnish with the chopped dhania and serve.

Notes

  1. I only had small potatoes at hand so used them whole. My preference would be to use larger potatoes cut into long wedges. If you do the latter and if you have the time/inclination you could, while the chicken is marinating, lightly fry the potato wedges and keep aside to add later.
  2. You will need to stir a fair bit after adding the peanut butter as it will make the sauce stick.
  3. I made the final consistency quite runny as this was aimed at my kids (who loved it). You could just as easily cook it to end with a much thicker gravy—either by adding less water or by uncovering at the end and letting most of it bubble away. Either way you’ll really need to stir constantly to keep the sauce from scorching/sticking.
  4. You could also use boneless thighs or breasts cut up but I like to cook chicken curries on the bone.
  5. And yes, you can use cashew butter or almond butter instead.

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