Monday, August 31, 2009


My son John has been making chicken curry recently - so I thought I'd post some of my favorite curry recipes, so he, and all of you, can use them.

The thing with curries is if you just start with cooking onions and adding curry spices, either your own blend, or purchased - kind of the American way - or if you make, or buy, a spice paste - kind of more authentic.

I have used a packaged dry spice mix, by Arora which is good, but is kind of pricey for what you get - $4 for the little spice pack, and then for say Chicken Tikka, you still have to add the chicken, olive oil, onions, ginger, garlic, tomato sauce, and cilantro. I used to buy a jarred spice paste called "Instant India"; don't think that's available anymore - but Pataks is good.

Sometimes the spice paste has nuts in it - like this one. Or you can make a paste of onions and ginger cooked together in butter until the onions are brown, puree it, and then add spices.

The chicken curry that I usually make is based on a shrimp curry recipe from from Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples. It's from her days of living in a hippie co-op house in Berkeley, so it's a fast, relatively cheap, skillet American curry that you eat over lots of rice - so 2 pounds of protein can feed a lot of people. When my Californian Aunt Janie showed me how to make curry, she said it should be sweet, sour and hot - hers had chicken, green peppers, apples, lemon juice, and curry powder to be all those tastes.

Chicken Curry a la Reichl & Jane Thomson
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
4 TBLS butter for frying
1 large onion, chopped - about 1 1/2 - 2 cups
2 cloves of garlic, chopped or put through a press
1 TBLS grated fresh ginger
4 TBLS curry powder (I use Penzy's sweet curry)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional if it's not already in your spice rack)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric (this is the yellow; again optional if it's not already in your spice rack)
1/2 teaspoon ground red chile, or cayenne pepper to taste - OR, put in a small amount of hot red Thai curry paste
1-2 TBLS flour
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
1 + a little cups chicken or vegetable broth (canned is perfectly OK if you do not have homemade)
grated zest of one lemon or lime
2 TBLS lemon or lime juice
1 TBLS (or more to taste) honey
salt & pepper to taste

Melt 1 TBLS butter in a large skillet, and cook the chicken until it is no longer pink and a little browned in spots. Remove the chicken to a plate. Melt the rest of the butter in the same skillet, and cook the onions, garlic, and fresh ginger until the onions are softened. Add the spices, curry through chile, and cook and stir until they are fragrant. Add the flour and stir well. Whisk in the coconut milk and broth, bring to a boil stirring constantly, and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered and stirred only occasionally, until thickened, 10 - 15 minutes. Add the chicken back, and cook until the chicken is nicely reheated. Add the citrus zest and juice, and honey, stir well, and taste for seasoning - add salt & pepper if desired. Serve over rice with condiments such as plain yogurt, chutney, raisons, and slivered or sliced almonds.

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