Indian Chicken Curry (Murgh Kari)

This is the first Indian dish that I ever made myself.  I remember being completely knocked out by how easy it was to make and that I was able to make something that tasted like the Indian food I had enjoyed in restaurants for years in my very own kitchen!  How cool was that?  Over the past year I have made this dish numerous times – each a variant on the mother recipe that I found here.  It is really a tour-de-force of flavor.  I simply adore this meal.  Although I have since branched off to make other dishes such as Tikka Masala and Pork Vindaloo and others, this is still one of my favorites.

First slice up about 1.75 – 2.25 lbs of chicken into bite-sized cubes.

Chicken in mid "cut-up".

Deposit the chicken into a bowl and add a liberal amount of salt

Salted Chicken #1

and stir about.

Now set the salted chicken aside for a bit while you assemble the spices. We need a few for this dish : Curry powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and lal mirch (Indian chili powder).

Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Curry Powder, and Lal Mirch (Indian red chile powder).

Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Curry Powder, and Lal Mirch (Indian red chili powder).

Once they are together, given them a good mix.

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You will be adding this aromatic mixture to the onions shortly!

I recommend buying these spices (and many others) at your local Indian food store. The prices are dramatically cheaper than a supermarket and the selection is phenomenal. When I first started to cook Indian food I bought all ground spices. I have since realized that folks generally recommend that spices should instead be bought whole and then ground. Consequently, have been buying whole spices little by little as my ground spices have been used up. The first to go was the cumin. Thus, in this particular rendition of the curry, I did grind whole cumin seed. I keep a small coffee grinder as a spice grinder. They are cheap and handy!

Whole cumin seeds.

Whole cumin seeds.

Ground cumin

Ground cumin

Now that everything is in place, heat up a half of a cup of vegetable oil in a sturdy and deep pot over medium-high heat.

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Now brown the chicken in batches.

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There is no need to cook it through — there will plenty of time to simmer this meat in a spicy gravy! Set aside the browned chicken bits.

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Now toss in about two cups of diced onions and saute for five minutes or so at about medium heat.

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Toss in a heaping tablespoon of ground ginger.

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Then the same amount of garlic.

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Stir some more and saute for five more minutes or until the color is nice and golden brown.  At this point your kitchen should be starting to smell really good.  Such a great aroma from such simple ingredients!

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At this point, take that bowl of rich and delightfully smelly spices and toss them into the pan.  Stir well and let the heat “open up” the spices.  Your kitchen really starts to smell great now!  Mmmmm!

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It should look nice and caramel colored brown now.

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Add a bit of water at this stage to deglaze the pan and to ensure that the spices down burn.  Overall, this process should take around 5-8 minutes.  Don’t rush this step!

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Now add the diced tomato and some water – roughly equivalent to one 15 oz can of diced tomatoes.

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Give it a nice stir and add a handful of fresh cilantro.  What a wonderful herb!

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Then add one cup of plain yogurt.

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Stir well again and drink in the rich color and texture added by the yogurt. At this point it really starts to look like curry!

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Now. Remember the chicken that we set aside after browning?  We now grab it and pour it (and all of the tasty juices) back into this rich sauce.

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A final stir and we have what looks like chicken curry.  Yeah!

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At this point I usually give it a taste and decide if it is hot / spicy enough for me.  I like my food on the spicy side so I usually add some fresh peppers.  A friend of mind showed me this really cool way to buy peppers in bulk and then store them for use – just grind them up and freeze them in a muffin pan.  Then each “cup” is a chunk of heat for whatever you are doing.  I took a tablespoon of the below cup and tossed it into the curry.

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Now simmer this mixture for around an hour until the chicken is very tender.  I usually keep the lid off during the last 30 minutes to let it reduce a bit.  In any event, you are nearly done.  Just a few more steps.  First, toss in some more cilantro.

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Then some garam masala.

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A final stir and serve.  The final product is below.  I hope you try it.  I hope you like it!

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