Curry Love

Butter-ChickenMy love for curry is about as deep as my love for cooking. Its use of vegetables, legumes and spices are unparalleled (opinion) and it makes having a well-balanced diet easy and delicious (fact).   But cooking curry at home… sometimes it’s just too hard to gather the energy to do it..  for a number of reasons.

When I lived in New York, I had this boyfriend who loved to eat anything and everything — he was one of those food enthusiasts (read: glutton) that got excited every time the McRib cycled back around. But of all the annoying food quirks I’ve encountered, his was the worst: he wouldn’t eat home-cooked food or sandwiches. Sandwiches!

We ate out A LOT. Which was fine by me — it was back when the only recipe in my repertoire was lemon meringue pie with a store-bought crust (gasp!). Looking back, my edible experiences with him had a heavy hand in shaping my food philosophy: anything less than delicious is a waste of a meal.Butter-Chicken

One of the places we frequented was an Indian/Pakistani buffet on the corner of West Broadway and Mercer. It was across the street from Felix — a brunch place that will never go away. Even if you’ve never been there, you might recognize it from movies and TV shows. It has all the trappings of a movie set: tiny bistro tables for sidewalk diners, big glass doors with billowing window treatments that open up on nice days so that inside diners feel like they’re eating al fresco. The restaurant we went to was a little more subdued. It was called Namaskar — it was in a spot that couldn’t hold a tenant for very long. Sadly, Namaskar didn’t last but a couple years, if that.

It was an unspoken Saturday event and, inevitably, we over-ate Every. Single. Saturday. It’s easy to do with curry. There are so many different dishes, ordering one item at a sit-down restaurant can be overwhelming, but with curry buffets you can get little tastes of everything.

What’s tough about making curry at home is that there are so many ingredients and spices for just one dish. Also, my favorite dish is butter chicken, but I have to have vegetables to go with it and making chana masala or gobi aloo on top of butter chicken.. is too much work for one person. So I came up with a hybrid of all three!

This is NOT authentic. I’m sure I would get all sorts of flack for leaving the skin on the chicken (I like a little extra fat), using dark meat instead of a chicken breast… and I’m probably leaving off a couple of spices, but this is pretty good and I get all my favorites in one pot.

Curry-Style Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken thigh
  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • ½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked
  • ½ head of cauliflower, cut into pieces
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 serrano chili, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 TB garam masala
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 TB tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 TB vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Coat chicken leg with the yogurt, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375℉.

Shake off the excess yogurt from the chicken. Place the chicken  in a Dutch oven, skin side down. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn it over and bake another ten minutes.Butter-Chicken

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil on medium-high heat.

Butter-ChickenAdd onions and saute until just soft. Add garlic, chili and ginger and cook until fragrant; about a minute.

Add all the spices and continue cooking until you have a nice brown pile of aromatics.Butter-Chicken

Stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low.Butter-Chicken

Add chickpeas and cauliflower. Let simmer while the chicken bakes.

Add the chickpea and cauliflower mixture to the chicken, cover and continue to cook on the stove top on low heat for another 20 minutes.Butter-Chicken

Stir in cream and simmer for another ten minutes.

Serve with raita (or plain greek yogurt), basmati or jasmine rice, a good chutney and maybe some naan.

I never get tired of curry, but I am glad that I know how to make a good home-cooked meal and I’m never barred from eating sandwiches.Butter-Chicken

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