This is perhaps the easiest curry on the block. Yes, yes, involves a lot of 'bhunoing' and chopping and use of spices but even so, I still say it is the easiest. The kinds you don't even need to think and plan and shop for. The kind you can serve with an elegant pulao to unannounced guests and get away with them thinking, wow, you did so much for us!! If this is what you serve when we don't tell you of our arrival in advance, what would you cook if we did! Umm, in which case I would probably serve an elaborate roast Raan with a choice of Indian breads or a Biryani , the full works. But in the mean time, this basic Murghi Ka Salan (chicken curry) will have to do! It is my go-to mid week curry which I nearly always serve with fresh peas Pulao and a vegetable Raita. Serve a tangy mint chutney on the side with fresh Lassi or Lemonade or even a cup of hot masala Chai later, and you will win hearts. (I know we don't start a sentence with an 'and', thankyou).
I would be foolish to claim that it is 'my' recipe. For it is not. It belongs to millions of other subcontinental households across the world. Perhaps the method or choice of spices might vary here and there, but essentially the base of a good curry remains the same. Pretty much a throw- in -everything -you- have- in- the pantry approach and 'bhuno' it to death and well, that's about it really. :) Personally, I make this so often that it isn't even considered special in any shape or form by my boys anymore! Talk about 'ghar ki murghi, dal barabar' ! Loosely translated, a meat which has the potential to become something really awesome and outta this world gets reduced to the level of a dal dish-an everyday, ordinary meal for us. Or something like that. I am not a language teacher anyway.
To begin with please go and read my recipe for Garam Masala because you will need to use some. Or else, use any of your choice, home made or store bought, won't be an issue. Like I said, slight variations exist in every family curry!
Here is what you will need:
About 500 gms of chicken, cut in to pieces, bone in, washed and drained well.
*You can use just thighs/legs/drums too.
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 large tomato, either chopped fine or blend in to a paste like I do. Adds a nice body to the curry.
1tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2-4 green chillies, chopped fine or slit lengthwise
Spices you will need:
1 tbsp of corriander powder
1tsp heaped cumin powder
1 tsp levelled tumeric powder
1tsp freshly cracked black pepper corns
1 tsp levelled, kashmiri red chilli powder (optional)-more for colour rather than heat
1 tbsp of Garam Masala divided, keep a fat pinch aside from this measurement, to be used later.
Salt to taste
4tbsp mustard oil for cooking or your choice of any cooking oil. This is distinctively a North Indian curry, so avoid using coconut oil, but even if you do, I don't see how I can stop you! :)
A tbsp of fresh green corriander leaves, finely chopped, a few thin matchstick style julliened ginger and 2-3 green chillies slit lengthwise. ( I dont add any green chillies at all since my son cannot handle the heat) As always, adjust the amount of chillies you prefer.
Start by heating the oil in a large wok. Mustard oil has a strong, sharp smell and just as you see it begining to smoke up a bit, add the chopped onions and fry them untill really browned well. Mid way to frying those onions, add the ginger garlic paste. Brown this all together. This is the only stage which requires you to kind of hover over your stove, because while we want it all to brown up nicely, we dont want burnt bits. So resign yourself to a lot of stirring and frying. Next to go in would be the chicken pieces. Mix, stir, coat and let it get browned really well on all sides. I usually do all this on a high flame. Takes a good ten minutes at least and plus some more maybe. By the end of so much of stirring around and mixing the chicken pieces with the onions etc, all the moisture should have evaporated. It should pretty much dry up, with the oil clearly separated and visible. The chicken should also be half cooked by now. * If you are using very fresh chicken, it will take time to cook till nearly done or even half cooked.
See how nicely browned my chicken pieces are? And I chucked in a couple of potatoes too.
The tomato paste as been added, ginger, corriander leaves and a pinch of garam masala sprinkled on top, this will be covered and slow cooked untill done.
Get your sides ready while the curry cooks, here is my vegetable Raita with chopped shallots, bell pepper, cucumber,green chillies, salt, spices and a generous dash of fresh lemon juice.
Peas Pulao, Raita and the ahem 'the curry'!!