Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cardamom Chicken Curry

The first time I had Indian food, I was 23 and visiting relatives in Australia.
For me it was very different, but I loved it.

But, I like a little variety and excitement in food.
Sometimes I really crave Thai or Indian food now, and something a little spicy can be a plus when the weather's a little nippy.
A fresh, homemade curry IS do-able.

Whether people have an adventurous palate or not is something you might not be able to change. I'm sorry for that. Some people are meat-and-potatoes and nothing else will do.

Part of my reason for this particular recipe is that I love cardamom, another is that I enjoy Indian food, a third is that I bought a LOT of ginger root.
Not that it's a problem, I do like ginger... I just wanted to put it to good use before it dried out or something like that.

This recipe is based on one I found on Saveur's website, by Monica Bhide, and by now I've made it a couple times.

Of course I made some changes... to account for taste, availability of ingredients and what I had on hand, as well as increasing amounts for a larger group.

How authentic is it since I've touched it? I don't know. Does it matter that much? I don't know that either.

The sauce is not incredibly thick, its a little soupy. Even if there's no chicken left, the sauce is great spooned over a bowl of rice.

Curry is perfect with some steaming Basmati or jasmine rice (cooked in water with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil), which is fairly accessible at any grocery.
Additionally, I mince fresh cilantro and green onions, toss them together, and sprinkle over the finished dish. On the side I like to have a little raita- which I don't have a fixed recipe for.

It's usually a mix of plain yogurt, peeled/seeded/diced English cucumber, maybe diced green onion and/or tomato, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and maybe a dash or two of cumin powder.
Raita is a cooling and contrasting accompaniment to the warm and spicy curry dish.

Cardamom Chicken Curry
based on a recipe by Monica Bhide
Serves 8-10

5 lb bone-in, skinless chicken thighs and legs
1 13-oz can coconut milk (I use a low-fat version and it works well)
1 1/2 c plain yogurt (also used low-fat here, not a problem)
1 1/2 t tumeric
1 t cayenne pepper
1 T kosher salt
20 green cardamom pods, crushed and divided
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
12 black peppercorns
1 1/2 t sweet curry powder
2 medium onions, diced
1 piece of fresh ginger, about 2 1/2 inches in length, minced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3-4 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, ribs removed, and minced

chopped cilantro for serving
chopped green onions for serving

In a large bowl or container, mix together the coconut milk, yogurt, 12 crushed cardamom pods and seeds, cayenne pepper, salt, and tumeric. Add the chicken, and make sure all of it is coated with the yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the last 8 cardamom pods, peppercorns, curry powder, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles. Stir the mixture occasionally and cook until the onions start to brown and a thick, golden, scrape-able layer of spices starts to develop on the bottom of the pot. Pour in the chicken and marinade and turn the heat down so the mixture simmers. Stir the chicken, flipping occasionally so it cooks evenly, about 40 minutes.
Season with a little salt if necessary, garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro and green onion if desired.
Serve with rice and raita.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Yum! We had it last night and it was delicious. I appreciated that I could get so many ingredients at a traditional grocery store since we don't have an Indian grocery near by.