This is not a finesse recipe. But the results are very tasty indeed. A variation on my usual “red curry” chicken that is a favourite of my children, this came about last month as part of a desperate attempt to use up the endless flood of tomatoes from my garden. It uses two pounds of tomatoes for one chicken. And the chicken cooks only in its own juices and the tomatoes as they cook down. That’s a lot of tomato flavour and so it is necessary to deploy a lot of masala to counter and balance it. I start by browning the onions to an almost dark brown, adding a healthy dose of fresh ginger-garlic paste and then a lightly toasted and powdered masala featuring cumin, coriander and pepper. A bit of jaggery and a few slit green chillies and the result is happiness, especially when eaten with rice. As you’ll see, the recipe also calls for a large chicken. We get our birds from a local small farm and the smallest from the last batch was the 6 lb’er I used to make this iteration of this curry. If the chickens you get are smaller you could either double ’em up or supplement one with a few drumsticks and thighs. I leave this decision to you.
- A large chicken (approx 6 lbs) cut into 10 pieces
- The following whole garam masala: 5-7 pods green cardamom, 5 cloves, 1 large piece cassia bark/cinnamon, 2 tez patta
- A large red onion, cut in half and thickly sliced
- 1 tblspn fresh garlic paste
- 1 tblspn fresh ginger paste
- The following lightly toasted, cooled and ground to a fine powder: 1 tblspn zeera/cumin seeds, 1 tblspn coriander seeds, 1 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 1 tspn saunf/fennel seeds, 1 tspn black peppercorns, 1 tspn Sichuan peppercorns, 2 large Kashmiri chillies [affiliate link]
- 1 tspn hot red chilli powder (optional)
- 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tblspn jaggery/brown sugar
- 5-7 hot Thai chillies, slit
- 4 tblpsns neutral oil
- 2 tblspns chopped dhania/cilantro for garnish
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a deep saucepan and when it shimmers add the whole garam masala.
- As soon as the tez patta darkens (or the cinnamon begins to expand) add the sliced onions. Saute till a rich brown, taking care not to let the onions scorch.
- Add the ginger and garlic pastes and mix in thoroughly. Saute till the raw aroma is gone.
- Add the powdered spices, haldi and red chilli powder and saute for another minute or two.
- Add the chicken and the salt, mix in thoroughly and saute, stirring often till the raw colour is completely gone, the chicken begins to brown and the oil begins to separate.
- Add the tomatoes, mix in thoroughly and simmer, stirring occasionally till the tomatoes have completely fallen apart. For the love of all my many-armed gods, please don’t let there be chunks of tomato floating in the finished curry.
- Add the jaggery and the slit green chillies, cover the saucepan, lower the heat to medium-low and cook till the chicken is tender.
- Garnish with the chopped dhania and serve with dal and steamed rice.
- With our mega chickens I save the back and wings for stock and for the curry I use the drumsticks and the thighs plus the breasts cut into six pieces. And I also always add the neck (and getting the neck is one of the ancillary benefits of not buying chicken from stores in the US).
- If tomato season has ended wherever you are as well feel free to use good quality canned tomatoes.
- The cooking time after you cover the pan will depend largely on your chicken. With these big ones I usually go somewhere between 50-60 minutes after the lid goes on, but with the heat at the lower end of medium-low.
- I don’t make this super hot but our kids are now at the point that I otherwise cook it just as I would if it were only the missus and I eating (but we’re careful not to serve them any of the slit green chillies).
- I love to eat this with steamed rice (with a high gravy to rice ratio) with a cup of mushoor dal on the side to drink like soup.