Curries are a deeply wonderful foodstuff. Instead of rhapsodising, here's
one of my favourite recipes (at the moment, anyway: 14Nov97).
It's called Kabuli Chicken, and comes from Julie Sahni's excellent work,
Classic Indian Cooking (Morrow 1980); I have changed amounts and
ingredients where I think it improves the recipe (ie, this is how I make
it; if it doesn't work for you, it's not Mrs. Sahni's fault, nor mine!).
It's not particularly hot,
but *very* pungent with black pepper. Not for the faint-hearted, but
doesn't cause injury.
Ingredients for eight persons:
For those outside the US, 1 cup is 8 fl. oz., or about 250 ml. All spices
should be freshly ground, and I prefer to *lightly* roast them first.
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tbsp chopped ginger root
- 15oz tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
- 1/2 tsp mace
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp ground almonds
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, powdered
- 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 heaped tsp black peppercorns, ground
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Put garlic, ginger, tomatoes and yoghurt into a food processor, and run
the machine until the ingredients are reduced to a fine puree.
- Put oil and the pureed mixture in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-stick
pan over medium heat. Cook until the puree reduces to a thick paste (about
the consistency of runny oatmeal, I'd say).
- Add chicken pieces and cook until they lose their pink colour and are
seared, but not brown. Add mace, nutmeg, almond power, cardamom, cumin,
coriander, fennel and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on
low heat. Uncover, continue cooking until the sauce has almost dried
(about 15 mins). Remove from heat, stir in cream, black pepper and
- You can eat it now (OK), wait and hour, reheat, check for salt and eat
it (better) or wait until tomorrow, reheat, check for salt and eat it
(best). If you plan to reheat, my wife thinks you should reduce the
covered cooking time to about seven minutes, so as not to overcook the
In best Internet tradition, this recipe is offered without permission. I'm
hoping it constitutes fair use. In any case, I urge people to buy the book
(ISBN 0-688-03721-6), because it's an absolutely first-class resource.
Finally, a word on spices. There is no point trying to make curries without
a good arsenal of spices. You don't need that many, but they do need to be
of reasonable quality and quantity. You can either pay exorbitant prices
at your local supermarket to get jars that have been on the shelf for five
years - not much call for fenugreek in most American kitchens - or you can
hunt down your local Indian supermarket, if you're lucky enough to have
one. I'd recommend the second. You can expect to spend about forty
dollars, but you'll get enough spices to last you for a year of heavy curry
making. If you go to your local supermarket, you'll still spend forty
bucks, but they'll be gone in a month. I'd recommend the following, at a
green cumin, coriander seed, green cardamom pods, fennel seed, black
mustard seed, cinnamon stick, cloves
Turmeric, cayenne (hot red pepper), nutmeg.