I crave curry pretty often. It’s this overwhelming thing I that I wake up with from time to time. Must. Have. Curry. Now. I mean, it usually takes a couple of days for me to satiate my craving. I have to sort it out and decide what form it will take. Assess what’s in my fridge, what’s in the freezer…. maybe pick up a few veggies, see what’s available at the store. Then I usually flip through simply INDIAN by Tahera Rawji and Hamida Suleman to decide what combination of spices to try this time around. I don’t think I have ever made the same curry twice. Which is great because the more I make curries, the more I learn about what spices and flavors work with what. Or when or how to add different vegetables into the mix and have every thing come out perfectly cooked. I don’t have a lot of experience with Indian, Pakistani, or East African cuisine but I would like to think that I am learning about it little by little. Obviously just ordering something at a restaurant is great, but then I have to sit there and try to decipher the flavors going on in my mouth. If I make it myself I can sort out what worked and why, and make notes about what to try next time. I think the aforementioned book is a great resource for the intermediate cook looking for some new recipes. I was given it as a birthday present a few years ago and have really enjoyed reading it. I feel a little more confidant when it comes to the spices and flavors of the Indian subcontinent, although to be totally honest I still have a lot to learn. I have come to cherish my mortar and pestle more than ever before.
The following recipe is a pretty simple one. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. All these things are easily acquired at your local grocery store (except the curry leaves, probably. Superstore may sell them. I got a big bag full at the Halal Market on Maryland for a couple of bucks). The diced green chilis I used were the same ones I generally put into tex-mex style things. I had some in my fridge already. If you wanted to use something like a jalapeno, I am sure it would be fine. Once you have your ingredients assembled and the vegetables all chopped up, this dish is pretty quick to make.
2-4 chicken legs
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup cooked chickpeas (if using canned please rinse very well)
1/2 cup coconut milk
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 cup diced tomato or halved cherry tomato
2 cups cabbage or greens (chard leaves, kale, spinach, etc) sliced into apx. 1” width strips
1 cup green beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1” piece of ginger, minced
1 tbsp diced green chillies
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried curry leaves (optional)
2 tsp mustard seed
Minced fresh parsley to garnish
Oil for searing chicken
Salt and pepper
*cooked basmati rice to accompany
Alright. Prep everything up. In a small bowl combine the green chilli with the minced garlic and ginger. In another bowl combine the spices, keeping the mustard seed separate. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat up a glug of canola oil or the frying oil of your choice in a pan used for searing. I use canola oil for searing meat because it has a much higher smoke point than olive oil. In other words, it can tolerate the higher temperatures required for proper searing much better than olive oil and won’t burn as easily. Place the chicken legs in the pan using tongs and let them get well browned on each side. Remove them to a new plate and set aside for the moment.
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a cocotte or a large heavy bottomed pot. Add the onions, carrot and celery. When the onions have turned translucent add the garlic, green chilli, and ginger. Let that cook out for a couple of minutes. Next add the spices (the curry, chilli powder, cumin, curry leaves). Give everything a good stir and let the spices toast for a few minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomato, beans and cabbage. Add the coconut milk and yogurt. Stir everything up and then nestle the chicken legs right down into the mix. Put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium low. Let the curry do its thing for about 40 minutes. Check on it from time to time and adjust the heat if anything is sticking to the bottom of the pot. When you take the lid off you want to see simmering, not boiling, with a few bubbles coming up to the top every couple of seconds. After 40 minutes check to see if the chicken is cooked through either by touch (if you feel adept enough) or by holding one piece up with tongs and using a meat thermometer on it. It should read at least 17o*F. Place the leg back in the pot, remove it from the heat and leave the lid on until you are ready to serve the curry.
This dish is great with basmati rice. Place about 3/4 cup of rice off-center on a dinner plate. Spoon one and a half cups of the veggies and sauce next to it. Top it all off with a chicken leg and throw on a sprinkle of parsley for pretty. Enjoy!