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Recipe #15: Simple Lahori Chicken Curry with Onion & Tomatoes

Posted Aug 20 2007 12:00am

Well, you can tell I've returned home (to the city) again, because I'm once again back to cooking Indian food. ;-) I have a much more willing & eager audience here for eating successive Indian meals than I did when I was back at my parents' place. ;-)

(It's more or less a trade off: The meals I typically cook at my parents' house are more vegetable-centric, while the meals I cook at home are more protein-centric & usually more adventurous in terms of spice & presentation. My fiancé, Erik, likes to eat meat a lot more often than me or my family, & while he likes many different kinds of fruit, he isn't as adventurous with the vegetables.)

My family were good sports & seemed to enjoy my cooking (during my stay there), but tended to like it better when I made things closer to their comfort zone. (For me, my comfort zone is Indian cooking. ;-) ) Since I haven't lived at home for years, I forgot where that set point exactly was, but was quickly reminded by my mother on several occasions! ;-)

I got a few cooking mandates from my Mom for "just plain corn" or "just plain steamed string beans," but of course in most cases, simply proceeded to ignore them & did things my way. Sorry, Mom, but you should know that neither my sister or I like to cook anything "just plain." My sister & I are both Geminis, and variety is a requirement on our "cooking planets." "Just plain" in my book is "just plain awful"! It's so much more pleasurable to eat food when it's been enhanced by spice, juice extracts like lemon juice, or other types of complementary flavors.

Also, in my many undisclosed number of years of existence, I've tried just about every type of cuisine there is to try both stateside and abroad, & have enjoyed eating & cooking food from around the world. So, I'm not your average plain Jane, & I certainly don't cook like her either!

So yea, I'm happy to return to cooking with chili peppers & garam masala! And Erik, if you're reading this, I WILL be adding more veggies into our meals. ;-)

And now onto the recipe you've all been eagerly anticipating.......

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Yesterday evening I made chicken curry from the same Indian Home Cooking  cookbook I've been raving about for months now on this blog. (I highly recommend buying this cookbook; the recipes are easy to make & wonderfully delicious. Every recipe I've tried so far is superb! See links on the right side of this page for cookbook details.) The recipe was really delicious, so I'd like to share it with you:



Simple Lahori Chicken Curry With Onions & Tomato

(Source: Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes  by Suvir Saran & Stephanie Lyness)

Yield: Serves 4 (NOTE: I recommend quartering this recipe for a 2-person meal. I originally tried cutting the recipe amounts by half & made it for two, which was still way to much chicken for two people to eat, especially if you serve this dish with other side dishes. The recipe basically counts a whole pound of chicken per person as a single serving! I think that's just way too much for one person to eat; a half pound is about the right size, & is closer to the recommended portion size for a meal's worth of protein consumption. Since there was enough leftover for second meal, we're having it again tonight. ;-))

Ingredients:
4-pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces and skinned
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt
1 1/2 medium onions, roughly diced
5 garlic cloves
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half crosswise
3 tablespoons canola oil (NOTE: I used olive oil instead, because it's healthier for you. I also only used a 1 Tbsp of oil for the marinade & no oil in the cooking process, as I used a non-stick coated pan. Again, it's healthier to use less oil.)
2 inches cinnamon stick
12 green cardamom pods
9 whole cloves
9 black peppercorns
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

1. Combine the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl and stir to coat the chicken with the spices. Let stand while you make the sauce.

2. Finely mince the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and set aside.

3. Combine 2 tablespoons of the oil, the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black peppercorns in a large casserole over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Add the minced onion mixture and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the onion browns around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Remove and discard the cinnamon and stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth; set aside.

6. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

7. Add the yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time and stirring well after each addition. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes to evaporate some of the moisture.

8. Add the pureed tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in the water. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan every 5 to 8 minutes to keep the sauce from sticking. Then uncover and cook 5 more minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice. Taste for salt and serve hot. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions: Serve with rice and raita.

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