I’ve been begging my friend Luke for a few months now to let me post some of his recipes. Although you might never guess it by hearing him talk excitedly about hockey or speaking in his gruff manner, Luke is one of the biggest foodies I know and the embodiment of the word “gourmet”. He cooks like a master chef and takes great pride in his kitchen, his ingredients and in the thoughtful presentation of his dishes. He is also one of the few people I know who makes an effort to properly pair his food with wines and he always asks for the freshest catch when selecting his fish, unlike normal people who normally don’t think twice.
When he phoned me up yesterday night to try some of his chicken curry dish that he had been sweating over for the afternoon, I knew better than to decline. He is a wonderful chef when it comes to regular meals, but with Indian food he has a remarkable skill. I’ll hand things off to Luke to share this flavourful, exotic recipe.
I’m not a chef by any means, but I do like to eat well, which to me means healthy, seasonal food cooked fresh — therefore I cook. I am also tired of eating out at restaurants and suffering the consequences, both financial and gastro-intestinal.
After a recent trip to India, and in light of our recent cold weather, I find myself craving hearty, healthy dishes that instantly warm me and maybe even make me sweat a little. This particular recipe stems from a past relationship with a woman of Indian descent who, after my persistent begging and pleading, explained the general guidelines and instructions — because no such “recipe” exists — to create the flavours that never quite resemble her mom’s wonderful and traditional Saturday night meal. That being said, it is a close rendition that I am proud to make and I believe the taste exceeds that of any “authentic” Indian restaurant in my little city.
Curry Chicken and Flavoured Basmati Rice
2 Tbsp of Ghee (clarified butter that can be found in Indian grocers or health food stores – you can use regular butter otherwise)
3 Cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
2 Onions, minced
1 Inch ginger, finely chopped or grated
3 Medium tomatoes, diced
4 Tsp Garam masala (see recipe below)
1 ½ Tsp chilli flakes
½ Tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp salt (or to taste)
½ Cup yoghurt
3 Tbsp tomato paste
8 Pieces chicken thighs or drums (skinless)
3 Cups water
¼ cup fresh Coriander or Cilantro (same thing) for garnish
- Dice 2 medium onions, finely chop ginger and garlic.
- Heat large soup/stock pot over medium high heat.
- Add ghee
- Fry onion, garlic and ginger until golden to light brown.
- Time and care should be considered at this stage to elicit the best flavours—approximately 15 minutes
- Chop tomatoes in between stirring of onions, garlic and ginger.
- Once onion mixture is golden, add in tomatoes and simmer down until much of the moisture has left the tomatoes. This should start to form together and thicken after 5-10 minutes.
- Combine together spices and add to tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger mixture. The smell will be beautiful—strong and fragrant. Once this is combined, you should taste to ensure it is to your liking. At this point, it will taste overly spicy and salty but that is ok!
- Mix in yoghurt and tomato paste while stirring slowly—bring to a gentle boil
- Add in chicken and bring to a gentle boil.
- Add water and bring to a boil once again.
- Reduce heat and simmer for at least one hour or until sauce becomes thick and rich.
Taste and season with more spice and/or salt (to taste) and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
1 Cup Basmati Rice
1 ½ cups Water
½ Onion (brown) julienned
½ cup Peas (sweetlet or young)
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Bay leaf
2 teaspoons Ghee (or butter)
½ teaspoon Salt
- Rinse rice in medium to hot tap water. Wash rice thoroughly until water appears clear and soak in warm/hot water for 10-15 minutes. Rinse again and drain water.
- Heat medium size pot (size matters! The rice and water should be less than half of the pot capacity*) over medium heat; add butter, cumin seeds, cloves, and bay leaf and fry until the aroma escapes or the cumin seeds crackle. Add the onions and sauté until translucent (not golden).
- Add rice and peas and stir to thoroughly coat the rice with the flavours. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until water absorbs completely. Approximately 15 minutes. Remove lid and gently create a small well in the centre to peer down to the bottom of the pot with a fork. If the water is gone and rice is just starting to stick, it is done. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Rice is tricky but the best advice I can give is to follow a few key steps for light fluffy rice:
- Wash and soak your rice
- Do not to stir once the lid is on
- Do not lift the lid often
- Get the simmer temperature dialled in (I use 1 ½ out of 9 on a small burner)
In a coffee grinder, grind each of the following separately until consistency of fine coffee. Mix all together and you will have enough masala for many curries
1/2 cup Cumin seeds
1 cup Coriander Seeds
2 tbsp Black pepper
1 tbsp Cloves
2-3 sticks Cinnamon
5 Black/brown Cardamom
5 Green Cardamom seeds