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  • Writer's pictureAshira Chugh

Quick and Easy Indian Chicken Curry (ASIAN 258 Student Submission)

Hello to all my peers in ASIAN 258! I hope you are all safe and healthy during this pandemic. During this pandemic, I like most of you, have reconnected with my roots in the kitchen and have experimented with several home ingredients. I cooked Indian tandoori chicken curry using ingredients available at a local Indian store.


For tandoori chicken:

1. 1 kg bone less chicken

2. 1/2 cup thick plain yogurt(curd)

3. 3/4 cup coconut milk

4. 1 lime

5. 1 piece of ginger

6. 1 pod of garlic (4 cloves of garlic)

7. 6 bits cinnamon

8. 6 flakes cloves

9. 2 cardamom sticks

10. green chilis chopped - as per taste

11. 1 bunch of coriander leaves - chopped

12. 1 tsp garam masala powder

13. 1 tb sp vinegar

14. salt to taste

15. 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

16. half medium onion diced

For gravy:

1. 1/2 kg tomatoes

2. 3 tb sp. cashew-nuts- powdered

3. chili powder (as per taste)

4. pepper powder (as per taste)

5. 1 tsp. sugar

6. 1/2 cup of water

7. 100 grams butter

8. 100 grams fresh cream

9. green chilis (as per taste)

Preparation: Crush ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Chop coriander and green chilis into that mix. In a bowl mix all the ingredients except chicken and lime. Clean and cut chicken into pieces and rub with salt and lime juice. Mix the chicken with the plain yogurt and marinate it and leave it for 8-10hrs.

As discussed by Colleen Sen in "Curry - A Global History" the starting point of any curry is a curry paste, wet or dry. When one prepares a curry paste, they need to balance the four elements in taste - spicy, sweet, sour and salty - with no one flavor overshadowing the other. Here I will be using a wet curry paste with a combination of water, yogurt and coconut milk. The curry paste can be used in a very similar way with vegetarian legumes.

Cooking: Heat oil (your choice, preferably coconut oil) skillet over medium heat over medium heat. Once the oil starts simmering add garlic mix from earlier with onion and cook until fragrant. This is called bhunooing, which results in a creamy rich curry. The spices don't have to be grinded before they are fried with the oil and the oil extracts the essential oils of the spices while they simmer. Add the marinated chicken and stir well. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes, or until starting to brown. Cooking the spices before adding the chicken in the skillet enhances the flavors and aroma of these spices. Dry roasting those very same spices results in the compounds of those very spices reacting with another to create different earthy spices which may not work with the chicken.

Add the scallions and coconut milk, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the coconut milk is boiling and begins to thicken. Season with pepper according to your taste. Chop and cook tomatoes with water. Then sieve and make a puree of 2 cups. Melt butter and lightly fry cashew powder to golden brown. Continue stirring. Reduce heat and add tomato puree, sugar, chili powder, black pepper and salt. Increase heat till it boils and stir, and cook for five minutes. Before serving, garnish with green chilis and coriander leaves.

Final Product- Indian Chicken Curry!

If you are unable to source the curry ingredients such as bay leaves and turmeric, or find the chili powder too spicy, I'd advice you to use curry powder from an Indian store which is quick and easy. You also don't have to use a skillet and can use a crockpot and leave it in there for 6-8hrs and not worry about it whilst it cooks. I wondered whether the dish would be just as authentic without these tools and ingredients. As we have learned from our lecture series turmeric, cardamom are pungent spices native to India (Brown, Lecture- Pilaf). The religious values and vegetarian diet of India has shaped the cultural matrix of India. However, by adapting the recipe to local tastes and ingredients available such as paprika and chili flakes, the cultural matrix of the Indian curry is not disposed and therefore its authenticity remains intact. As in Achjaya's Indian Food Ethos the use of elements such as oil, and fire to convert the ingredients of the dish reflect the culturally adaptive use of some of those ingredients. The use of fire and the cooking gradations confers the ritualistic purity on the dish and maintain the authenticity of the dish, in my opinion.

The dish is eaten with Basmati rice, which is a staple in South East Asia. Basmati rice is long and non-sticky. This makes basmati rice distinctive to other rice based dishes. Pilau is different to steam boiled basmati rice. Pilau is cooked with dry roasted spices - cardamom, and gloves, saffron for the aroma and vegetables. The chicken curry can also be complemented with spiced yogurt to in other words - raita. Raita is a condiment made up of dahi (yogurt) which cools the palate, especially with all the hot spices. The yogurt is diluted and there are many variations which can be included such as sour pomegranates, spices cucumber or even mint. Notable raita vary region to region with the most popular including boondi which are tiny balls of fried chickpeas flour.

We have seen that many foods in the Asian world have interconnected past. As we have seen it includes many regional cuisines and cooking practices. This has led to different cultural matrices and cultural adaptations. Some foods have been original to the Asian world and others not so much. I have been trying to find a clever thread which connects these dishes and reflects the underlying culture where they are from, but surely their uniqueness surely lies in the fact that there isn't one. I think that is what makes those dishes authentic.

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