When I see a cutely named chicken curry recipe I get scared. It usually means commercial “curry powder” (NOT powder curry leaves…) made of a mix of ground spices ground who knows how long ago. It takes a little more effort to make your own, but you can’t argue with results. So I bought 1 1/2 pounds of bonesless, skinless chicken thigh from my favourite stall in the Atwater market (it’s not organic, but it’s essentially the same thing, says the butcher, since the chickens are fed the exact same thing except one grain. I’m skeptical, but you can’t argue with taste either. Especially when you’re poor. This is an argument I usually don’t make myself or accept from others, so feel free to shake your head at me).
Fortunately, Hari Nayak’s “chicken curry in a hurry” has a little less hurry and a little more fresh curry. The “in a hurry” part comes from throwing the onion, green chili peppers, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and cumin seeds in a blender with water to make a paste (thus negating the need to make a separate curry powder blend – toast whole spices, let cool, grind), and the only other seasonings are a little tomato paste (no blanching, peeling, and chopping tomatoes) and homemade garam masala.
Garam masala is the kind of the mother spice. This is one you make it advance, but you presumably have it already made from some other recipe. So you make it once and it sits around waiting for its next use for up to a month (or two…just not six). If you have a friendly butcher who skins and bones your chicken thighs (or other chicken pieces – really anything but breasts and wings is good, and you could mix in some large breast chunks if you really want to, but they’ll be drier than the thighs) the recipe will fly.
For being so simple, this recipe is really delicious. It’s pretty high in fat, so don’t slurp up all the sauce, but don’t waste it either. If you really want to, you can let the chicken cool, refrigerate it overnight, and scrape off the layer of fat that rises to the top and solidifies. Then reheat it. I find this kills some of the freshness of the spices, though, so it’s your call. I’d rather have a little of the really fresh tasting sauce the day-of, and then scrape off the fat on day 2 for leftovers once the freshness of the spices has diminished anyway.
Sure, you need to clean a blender and you need to make the garam masala in advance, but this recipe is about as simple and quick as chicken curry should ever be. There are a lot of restaurants that could learn from this…