So pretty much everyone has a chicken curry that their moms, grandmoms, aunts, MILs, dad, granddads, uncles, FILs (possibly?) have taught them. I have one too! Mom-inspired.
Is mine different from the rest? Possibly not. You see the taste of any chicken curry will always be different as that depends completely on the person who’s cooked it and what mood they were in. You see food, is a mood business. I believe every flavour you taste in each morsel is a culmination of the thoughts of the individual who was cooking and whether they imagined themselves in sunny Greece, or snowy Canada or maybe their small home in the shanty town of Dharavi in Mumbai, or their kitchen in the middle of a big city like Tehran. Yes, the flavour of the food is very much inspired by your thoughts at that particular moment.
I’d like to say I’ve perfected my chicken curry and it should taste the same every time I cook it, but there is a subtle taste of difference every time.
Stuff you need:
- Chicken thighs
- Mustard oil/vegetable oil (Mustard oil makes it the mom-inspired Bengali chicken!)
- Dry spices – bay leaf (optional), cumin seeds, cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick
- 2 large red onions
- The usual curry spices – turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder
- Salt and pepper
- Ginger and garlic paste
- Baby pearl potatoes (optional)
- Secret ingredients – English mustard and yogurt
Toss in your dry spices in the warm oil and fry till the aroma fills the kitchen. After that, in goes your red onions which you’d need to fry till they soften.
Now add your chicken thighs. There is a debate on whether to add the ginger and garlic before adding the chicken, but I prefer adding the chicken. It gives an opportunity to fry the chicken with the onions in the oil.
Once they have lost their pink colour, add the ginger and garlic paste and top up with all the curry spices.
At this point, let it fry in the oil for a few minutes. The chicken will start releasing its own juices and you will see the water collecting. At this point, I usually add a little boiling water. Just a little as too much water takes away the taste of the chicken juices. And then add the potatoes. Potatoes are optional, but mom-inspired chicken for me is a complete miss if it doesn’t have baby potatoes in it!
I usually cover and simmer for 10-15 at this time and let the chicken cook. After that, I add in my secret ingredients – a mix of yogurt and English mustard! Now, this is my invention, mom didn’t have access to English mustard when she used to make it. But I’ve discovered it adds oodles of flavour during all my cooking experiments with chicken. I usually add the two – 1 tablespoon yogurt and around 2 tablespoons mustard, in a bowl and add that to the chicken just 5 minutes before i want to take it out.
So that’s my take on the classic chicken curry. Possibly the one thing which adds that extra zing, are the potatoes. If you have the time, fry them in some oil beforehand and then add them just 10 minutes before you want to take the chicken off the gas. Take a fork to check that the potatoes are boiled though, a classic mistake I have made many times!
Poulet au curry est pret!