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Chicken Curry with Greens and Garam Masala

Updated March 21, 2019

Cookbook

Indian Home Cooking

Published by Clarkson Potter

Chicken Curry with Greens and Garam Masala
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Editor's Note: If you want to try something new, then this recipe for Chicken Curry with Greens and Garam Masala is one you'll want to keep in mind! Perfect for a night in or as the main dish for a casual party with friends, this recipe is one you'll want to make again and again.

This northern Indian dish is traditionally made with fenugreek greens but I like it with chopped fresh cilantro too, and cilantro is certainly easier to find. It is usually finished with 1/4 cup heavy cream. I don’t add the cream—the yogurt makes a creamy sauce on its own. But if you’d like the extra richness, stir the cream in at the end and return the sauce to a simmer before serving. Serve with Mushrooms in a Coriander-Scented White Sauce, Plain Basmati Rice, and toasted pita bread.

Serves4

Cooking MethodSauteeing

CostModerate

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseMain Course

MealDinner

Taste and TextureCreamy, Meaty, Spiced

Ingredients

  • A 3½- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces and skinned
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, cut into chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • A 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
  • ½ firmly packed cup stemmed cilantro leaves, or ¼ cup dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (see below)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Combine the chicken, turmeric, ¼ teaspoon of the cayenne, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large bowl and stir to coat well with the spices. Let stand while you make the sauce.

  2. Combine 3 tablespoons of the oil, the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and cumin in a heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the edges of the vegetables brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.

  3. Add the cilantro or fenugreek leaves, ground coriander, garam masala, and the remaining cayenne and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer to a food processor and puree. Set the onion puree aside.

  4. In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the yogurt a tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition to completely incorporate the yogurt. Then cook, stirring, 2 minutes to dry out the mixture.

  5. Add the onion puree and the water, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir every 5 to 8 minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the sauce from sticking. Uncover and cook 5 more minutes to reduce the sauce. Taste for salt and serve hot.

Garam Masala

The most important spice mixture used in northern Indian cuisine. It goes particularly well with onion-based sauces for meats and poultry but it is used to flavor many other dishes, including vegetables, chaots (snacks), dais (legumes), and raitas. Sometimes the spices are used whole and simply cooked into the dish. Or the spices are toasted and then ground together into a blend (as in the recipe below) and the mixture is stirred in at the end of cooking. Although garam masala is not as fiery hot as some Indian spice blends, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon give it a different kind of heat that comes on slowly and lasts awhile. Since many of the recipes in this book use garam masala, it’s worthwhile to make a good quantity to have on hand. You can keep it for up to three or four months in an airtight container. This is my favorite blend:

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 bay leaves
¼ cup cumin seeds
1/3 cup coriander seeds
1 rounded tablespoon green cardamom pods
1 rounded tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 whole dried red chile
1/8 teaspoon ground mace

Combine the cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, and red chile in a frying pan and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cumin turns uniformly brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Put into a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the mace and store in an airtight container.

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