When it comes to simple everyday meals, I find it hard to succumb myself to the traditional Indian daily routine of ‘Dal-Sabzi’, translated, simply meaning a lentil and vegetable preparation. A simple Indian lunch would mainly consist of a lentil and a side of some vegetable, cooked in different variations everyday. These are then relished with warm rotis, rice, a dollop of pickle, and some fresh yoghurt. For me, a meal like this often finds it’s way to my dinner table once every 10 days. The rest of the week however, I prefer finding ways of simplifying indulgent favourites to treat my ever-so-demanding palate.
Often, when I talk to people on the topic of curries, the most common concern I get confronted with is the amount of time, and not to mention effort that comes with it. I for one, beg to differ. For me, a curry is nothing but a smooth blend of flavours brought together to highlight a star ingredient. True, you can spend hours toasting, pounding, and grinding spices to form the smoothest of pastes; you can spend days marinating and chopping to achieve the most delicate blend possible; and you can also lose yourself in a cloud of spices and herbs that would fill your kitchen and your home with an aroma almost so ambrosial, you would think you woke up in a foreign land. But then again, you could do what I do on days when all I have at my disposal are a few measly minutes at the brink of lunch-time with a rumbling tummy to cater to.
As I see it, curries are not something one should be afraid of. Neither are they something to look at with such cynicism or vengeance. A curry is a curry, and like any other can be easily tamed to suit ones tastes and preferences. I like mine to be quick and robust with flavour, and I don’t stop till I find my way with it.
DAHIWALI CHICKEN CURRY
CHICKEN SIMMERED IN A YOGHURT GRAVY
Prep time: 15 min | Cooking time: 30 min | Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side
boneless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch cubes
onion, finely chopped
tomatoes, finely chopped
green chillies, finely chopped
plain yoghurt, beaten
cardamom pods, bruised
dried bay leaves
whole black peppercorns
red chilli powder
garam masala powder
light cooking oil
fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
salt, to taste
HEAT oil in a thick-bottomed pan and saute cardamom, peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cloves, till they begin to sizzle. Add onions and green chillies, and fry for 3-5 minutes on medium-high heat till onions turn pink and tender. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute for another minute or two till it gives out oil.
ADD red chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala, and fry for a minute. Mix in chopped tomamtoes and salt, and cook for a few minutes till tomatoes pulp and releases oil around the sides of the pan. Slowly stir in beaten yoghurt forming a smooth gravy base.
ADD chicken pieces, water if necessary, and allow to cook covered for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat till done. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves and serve piping hot with a side of rotis or rice, and a salad.