My Daddy always tells me what a culinary renaissance it was for him as a young man, moving away from his home town of Racine to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison. (Go Badgers!) Madison’s higher population offered more diverse restaurant options and it was there where he discovered the wonders of fantastic lamb gyros, taco stands and delicious curries so spicy they make your eyes water. When my palette passed out of its childhood ‘picky’ stage, my Daddy was quick to share his love of international cuisines with me. As a result of which, we spent a significant amount of time in my high school years frequenting our local Indian restaurant, testing out as many dishes as possible.
It was about that time when my love of eating grew into a love of cooking as well. Since the first time I gave it a whirl, I was fascinated by the way the spices change and develop into an infinite number of flavors when you cook them. I was extremely fortunate to have a few Indian friends whose moms were nice enough to put up with me in their kitchens for a few evenings. It was extremely beneficial for me to see first hand how authentic Indian cooks utilize all the spices. Also, because of that, I now know the names of a few spices and herbs in Hindi!
The starting point for this recipe was in the book ‘Complete Indian Cooking’ by Hamlyn. This chicken curry is full of flavor and spices but it isn’t spicy. If you want to make your curry a little more masochistic, feel free to toss in as much chiles and cayenne powder as you want. For side dishes, I made steamed long grain rice with a teaspoon of cumin seeds tossed in (rice cooker, for the win!) and naan, Indian flat bread.
If you don’t have these spices on hand, don’t buy them in the regular spice section of your super market! They are much cheaper in an ‘ethnic’ market or the ‘international’ section of a larger store, and you are more likely to find whole spices there too. I strongly advise getting whole spices, they keep longer and that way you know your expensive spices aren’t being diluted by the manufacturer.
Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry –served with rice and naan
Serves 3 – cost approx $.93 per person (note: I increased the ‘incidental’ seasoning cost that I normally use of $.25 to $.50 because there are more exciting spices in this recipe)
Total meal, including sides costs approx $1.18 per serving
- 2 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp peppercorns
- 5 cardamom pods
- 2″ cinnamon stick
- 2 onions, sliced ($.33)
- 1/2 bell pepper, sliced – I used green, but any color would be delicious ($.50)
- 1 Tbs ginger, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced ($.52)
- 1 lb. chicken leg pieces, approx 4 ($.79, I got a great sale!)
- salt, to taste
- 1 cup yogurt ($.16, since I make my own)
- 1 Tbs scallions, thinly sliced – for garnish
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon stick, onions and bell pepper. Saute for a few minutes, until the onions begin to sweat. Next, add the ginger, garlic, chili powder, paprika and cabbage and cook for another few minutes.
Season the chicken pieces. Push the veggies off to one side of your pan to clear some space to sear the chicken pieces. By this point there may be ‘crud’ sticking to the bottom of your pan, as long as it’s not obviously burning, this is a good thing; don’t worry and carry on with browning your chicken on either side. When the chicken is browned, stir in the yogurt and bring to a simmer. You may want to add stock or water if your curry sauce is too thick. Be sure to scrape up the yummy spice crud on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the chicken is fully cooked, 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
You’re now ready to dish up some curry and dig in!