Monday, November 23, 2015

Meera Sodha's Chicken Curry

A big part of the purpose of this blog is to motivate myself to try new things. I'll admit that I'm not new to curry in terms of consuming it nor making it. I've been trying to perfect truly good curry and sampling various recipes for the last year or so.

I spent years making curry-like concoctions that were fine, but nothing like the sublime experiences that I had when going to a good Indian restaurant. I've perfected a really fantastic almond curry (murgh badami) recipe that I discovered online. It has become my husband's favorite and it has a good deal of depth of flavor. It's a rare recipe that has no cumin and gets richness from the almonds.

While my husband can't get enough of the murgh badami, I don't want to exclusively focus on it. I've been trying for some time to get a tomato-based recipe that reminds me of the steaming bowls of curry offered at Indian establishments, and I've largely failed. It is for this reason that I decided to try The New York Time's oft-mentioned (on Facebook) recipe for Meera Sodha's chicken curry.

The picture on the Time's recipe is very vibrantly red. I think the picture is color adjusted digitally to look that way given that I followed the recipe fairly closely and mine was brownish orange. My tomatoes were plenty red, and I used good quality tomato paste which was thick and a rich red shade, but mine looked like this:

I think that the turmeric brought out a lot of the orange shades and the yogurt lightened the overall vibrancy. This isn't an important point, but I do wish that pictures weren't manipulated to make them look less realistic than the result. That being said, my curry is definitely less photogenic than the one on the Times.

The alternations I made were based on my experience with previous curries. Instead of adding the yogurt separately near the end, I marinated the chicken in the yogurt overnight with about a half teaspoon of  salt, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and about a half teaspoon of chili powder. I do this because my husband is the main consumer of my curries and he dislikes dry white meat. Marinating the chicken in yogurt for eight hours or more makes sure that it is flavorful and tender.

Beyond marinating in the yogurt with a few extra spices, the only changes I made were to use three small serrano peppers because that was what I had instead of jalepeno or cayenne. I also didn't want the curry to be too hot because my husband can't tolerate too much heat. To that end, I also skipped adding a pinch of cayenne at the end as well. The garam masala was plenty hot enough to make up for these changes.

I also had to cook the onion mixture longer than the recipe said, but it has always been my experience that the amount of time it takes to get onions to the proper "golden" state is longer than recipes assert. I think they don't want to scare people off by listing the real cooking times, which can be intimidating in their length.

The end result was an excellent curry that was richly savory and slightly thick with a hint of heat. The tomato flavor merges and is mellowed by the onion and all of the spices come together with equal power to form an excellent backbone. Usually, it takes an overnight sit in the refrigerator for the flavors to fully merge in curry (at least for me), but this one seemed to pull together very rapidly and tastes great right off the burner. This is one I'd definitely make again with the hopes of repeatinf the same result. 

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