Parsee Red Chicken Curry
4 to 6 servings
There's only a small amount of garam masala in this curry dish, and, as is customary, it is not added until just before serving. But many of the spices that constitute garam masala are included in a paste that infuses the chicken with its pungent flavor. For convenience, we've substituted prepared coconut milk for grated, soaked and strained coconut.
We're giving a wide range of chili peppers so you can achieve a sweet-heat balance you're comfortable with. If you can stand the heat, use all 10 chili peppers and don't discard the seeds from some of them. Too much heat? Dilute the sauce with water. Serve with basmati rice. Adapted from "50 Great Curries of India," by Camellia Panjabi, a 1996 book that has just been released in paperback by Kyle Books.
5 to 10 red chili peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
3 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (may substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
3 cardamom pods
3/4 -by- 1/2 -inch piece ginger root, peeled with a spoon and coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
One 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
water if necessary. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, turning once, until brown on both sides. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and reduce the heat to medium-low so that bubbles just break the surface. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into a piece of chicken should register 165 degrees).
Add the vinegar and garam masala. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.
I had 1/2 a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts, so that's what I used. The rest of the recipe I followed pretty much as is and thought it was very nice. I didn't grind up the cinnamon stick or the cloves in the food processor, but I did add them into the mix prior to cooking. I was apprehensive about the cinnamon stick and cloves grinding properly in the food processor and not having small hard bites swimming in the sauce. Blech! Oh, one other thing that was different, I used on can of diced tomatoes, drained. I did give the tomatoes a whirl in the food processor, it was already dirty from making the paste, so I thought it would be an ok thing to try. I don't think it was a problem. Oh, remembered another note, I had my pan on the stove over the flame, with the oil in it...but it got too hot, so I poured out the oil, leaving just a thin film of oil...it was enough, so don't use 1/3 cup that is called for in the recipe.
The final note...I used all 10 of the peppers, and I didn't seed them! Wooeeey! This was a little HOT! But not in a bad way. But it does need something to cool it down, I'd really suggest a yogurt sauce. We didn't have that so it was a little dollop of Daisy.
Served with jasmine rice.
More from the Washington Post:
What makes one garam masala different from another? Freshness and the right flavor balance. The literal translation for the Indian spice -- which typically includes ground cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, cardamom and fennel -- is "warm spice blend." Garam masala is most often sprinkled lightly over a finished dish such as curry.
Garam Masala Test:
HEAVY ON CORIANDER
McCormick, 1.7 ounces, $4.49.
This was bulked up with coriander, a less expensive spice than the others. It lacked a
strong aroma or flavor.
The Spice Hunter, 1.8 ounces, $6.16.
Still quite aromatic with a lot of cumin.
BEST OVERALL (This is the one that I used!)
Whole Foods, 1.56 ounces, $4.79.
Redolent with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom; had the most traditional flavor.
NOT THE USUAL
Dean & Deluca, 1.5 ounces, $4.25.
The yellow color indicated the presence of curry powder and turmeric -- flavors not usually found in garam masala.
Nirmala's Kitchen Guyanese garam masala, 1.6 ounces, $6.95.
The spices were dark and over-roasted, producing a bitter, pungent flavor.