Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chicken Curry

Chicken has always been a big favorite of ours, even before we moved to Belize. And while nothing screams comfort food to me like a whole roasted chicken, I am an equal opportunity cook of all things fowl.
Looking for something different to do with some chicken breasts, I caught the tail end of a cooking show that mentioned chicken curry. Now I haven't frequented many Indian restaurants, nor have I experimented with many Indian dishes. But after doing some recipe research, I was convinced that a curry dish might be just the thing to add a little kick to our dinner.
Here's what I made:

And here's how it came to be:

As I mentioned there was a bit of research to figure out what spices and other ingredients should go into the dish. Here are the cast of characters based on what I had in the pantry and spice cupboard, plus what I knew I could pick up at the local grocery stores:

  • 1 small, chopped onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (not shown 'cause I forgot...oops)
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Now pulling this together is incredibly easy and pretty quick. First drizzle some olive oil in a pan that over medium heat. Toss in your onions and saute them 'til they just start to brown around the edges.

To the onions, toss in the garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, ginger, sugar, and salt to taste.

Give it all a good stir and then I want you to put your head over the pan and smell it. It will knock your socks off, in a very good way. I want to have my kitchen smell like this all the time.

Let that onion/spice mixture cook for about 2 minutes. Then add your chicken, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk.

Bring the whole thing to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes. As the sauce reduces down, the color will deepen, as will the flavor of the spices.

See what I mean about the color? Once the sauce is at this point and your chicken is cooked through, stir in the lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 more minutes and it's time to eat!

As you saw in the very first picture, I opted to serve the curry over rice. David was kind enough to remind me that we had broccoli, bless his heart, because I would never have thought of it because, well, it's a vegetable. He steamed it up as a side and our plate was complete.

Having now made this dish a couple of times, I found that while the curry tastes really good after the initial cooking, it tastes even better if it's made the day before serving. That extra 24 hours to let all the flavors marry takes it over the top. The next time I make it, I want to try marinating the chicken with the yogurt and spices for about an hour, then plopping it into the pan with the onions. Don't know if it will make any difference, but what the heck? I may be on to a slightly different flavor profile that takes it in whole different direction!

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