Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices

Tonight I made curry from scratch for the very first time. Sure, I've made it with store bought sauces or pastes before. But tonight I made the curry paste myself, the sauce myself, and voila - curry. The recipe came from the Splendid Table, and it was aptly named. The spices are indeed gentle. Subtle; understated; coy, if you will.

To be honest, I think I prefer my curry with a bit more kick. But this dish reminded me of the Anglicized version of curry I grew up with. Curry is quite different in England than in the US. And I can't speak for what it's like in India or any other Asian country, as I've never traveled to that part of the world. But different is not necessarily a bad thing. This is a comforting version of curry. It won't make you sweat, it will just make you feel well-fed and well taken care of.

Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices
adapted from the Splendid Table's "How to Eat Supper"
serves 3


Curry paste:
1/2 large onion, cut in half
3 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium-large ripe tomato
1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup water

vegetable oil
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro


1. In a food processor, puree one of the onion halves with the remaining curry paste ingredients. Set aside.

2. Thinly slice the remaining onion half. Film the bottom of a straight-sized saute pan with vegetable oil, and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the slices onion, and saute until it begins to color. Add the curry paste, reduce heat to medium, and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the oil separates from the curry paste.

3. Stir 1/3 cup of the yogurt into the curry sauce and simmer, stirring and scraping up the curry paste from the bottom of the pan, until yogurt thickens and reduces significantly, about 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the chicken, remaining yogurt and water. Bring to a slow simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

5. Remove chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside in a serving dish. Raise heat until sauce is boiling. Boil it down until it is so thickened that oil begins to separate again, about 4-5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed. Serve the chicken topped with the curry sauce.

We had ours over a bed of brown rice. I think this is the perfect solution when you might be craving Indian or Thai food but you're not in the mood for a lot of spice. You can always spice it up more intensely with a second jalapeno, or an even hotter pepper. But then you'd have to change the name, and where's the fun in that?



  1. Looks really good to me - may try it tonight as we usually have an Indian Takeaway on Fridays - and this could be the perfect alternative.