To make out-of-this world chicken curry on a bright Saturday morning beating all the odds that plague the poor
Chicken legs, yoghurt, lemon, whole pepper (about 7-10), grated coconut (half a cup), bay leaf, cinnamon,
Ginger- garlic paste, salt, red chilly powder, lots of tomato paste and three onions (vertically chopped).
Procedure: A] Marinate
For a kilo of chicken take around 500 grams of plain yoghurt. Add a spoon full of turmeric and about 2-3 teaspoons of ginger-garlic paste to it. Squeeze half a lemon and mix well. Wash the chicken and apply the above mixture evenly to all of it and leave it aside. This has to be left alone for at least twenty minutes so please make sure that you are well fed before you begin.
I believe that one should always make one's own spices. So I do not recommend the ready made chicken curries that you get in the markets. Take an average sized frying pan (hopefully non-stick but anything works if you are creative enough). Add about two tablespoons of oil to it. (Please refrain from using extra virgin olive oil. =|) When the oil heats up, try throwing a few mustard seeds when they crackle, carefully put in all the groups of spices individually and shallow fry them. Put in the pepper (and stay away from the frying pan as you do it because sometimes it pops up and goes into your eye!), the cinnamon and the bay leaf. Remove all the spices when they are light brown. This procedure gets out the flavour and you can smell them distinctly in the curry. In the oil that is left, fry the onion till it becomes light brown and squishy (Sorry, I really did not have a more accurate word than this). When all the oil is lost in the onion and the spices put in the coconut on the pan. Please watch it very carefully. Coconut oozes oil. So please do not add oil in the pan to fry coconut.
When all the spices are lined up in a plate (and you have realized that the 20 minutes of leaving the chicken alone are over) chop a tomato and in the heated pan, put about two teaspoons of oil again and fry the tomato and onion.
Challenge #1: Lack of blender.
Ideally the spices should be blended into a paste by addition of water. However not all of us are fortunate, rich or resourceful enough to have a blender around. It is okay to put in whole spices. I call it the "exotic" curry. Where you never know what is going to crunch under your teeth next. Sometimes it is pepper and sometimes cinnamon. :)
Add in the marinated chicken to the tomato and onion and add the spices and the tomato paste. Let it cook for a while (under pressure if possible and if you are really hungry) When it is cooked (try forcing a fork through to check), add about 3 teaspoons of chilly powder and salt to taste. Please do not add a tumbler full of cold water if you need volume. Make sure you balance it with a thickening agent like tomato paste or coconut. It is an insult to the food if you indiscriminately add cold water when it is cooking.
Challenge# 2 Lack of time and the energy to do all of this in one go.
You can fry the spices and make a paste and refrigerate and only do the marinate and the cooking when you want to make it.
Challenge#3 "What is a bay leaf?" ..Innocent questions. Please go to the nearest Indian shop and ask the owner. He/she would help you to get everything that you need.
( Please do not fall into their traps and buy the larger packets because they are cheap. Both of us know that you are probably going to make this only once and then the spices are going to lie around over the kitchen counter)
Alternatively for my friends in America, you can just "Google it up" and get your answers. But please do not freak out the storeowner by calling it "Cinammomum tejpata".
Ideally you should garnish it with coriander leaves and serve it with tomato and onion salad.
With cardamom flavoured rice with saffron. These, I agree are luxuries. So just pour in plain rice in a bowl and have curry with it as you Gtalk with someone in India. :)