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Depending on the region, the base for Indian curries is usually onion, tomato and/or yogurt along with combination of poppy seeds, coconut powder and/or nuts. In parts of South and south western regions of India, yogurt is replaced with coconut milk and some mughlai curries have cream.
At my place and at husband’s place, the base for non veg curries is onion, yogurt and tomato though tomato is a new addition. In rustic style of cooking, onion and yogurt along with poppy seeds and coconut powder were the key ingredients that went into a curry. However, in last couple of decades, usage of poppy seeds decreased in many households in everyday cooking citing health issues and then came the substitute or an alternative in the form of tomato. At least at my mother’s place, nowadays poppy seeds are used only occasionally and sometimes tomato is also used to get more gravy. Nuts like almonds and cashews were never used and still not used in non veg gravies, at both my parents and il-law’s places, unless it is a must in a specific dish or a restaurant style gravy.
For this week’s cooking with chicken for this month’s Cooking Carnival, I wanted to cook one chicken curry. At home it is always chicken shorva and Mr U prefers that at home, over any chicken curry. Even if I make something different such as butter chicken, dum ka murgh, chicken tikka masala, he eats but doesn’t relish it as much as he does chicken shorva. He does enjoy above mentioned curries at restaurants but at home, the good old shorva is always preferred and I guess it is our comfort food!
Keeping that in mind, I tweaked the chicken shorva recipe by making it tomato free, adding some cashew powder and poppy seeds. Cashew is the new ingredient in the curry. When I mentioned I was making chicken curry, he wanted me to make it spicy. I made it last Saturday and it wasn’t as spicy as I hoped it to be. I think the cashew balanced the heat from chili and wasn’t as spicy hot as I had expected it to be. I took the pictures and was going to post the recipe anyway.
Last week was a bit hectic in blog cooking front as I had to cook most of the recipes for last week and also managed to cook many of this week’s recipes. This week has been relaxed as I have not done much blog cooking except the pasta. Since it was a relaxed week, I made the curry again couple of days ago. I was glad I made this curry last week as it gave me a chance to re-cook and modify the recipe a bit.
I did not mind cooking it again, as I had to make a chicken curry anyway for dinner. Instead of chicken shorva, I repeated this curry. Second, I didn’t have to worry of about time of the day I cooked, as I already had pictures and didn’t have to race with the sun for natural light. I need a break after cooking to transition from chef to a food stylist & a photographer! Anyway, I liked the modified version better and if one is looking for a variation to the regular chicken curry, this is a nice recipe to try. It goes well with white rice, pulao, biryani and even rotis. Since we are suckers for shorva, I kept the gravy a bit on the thinner side, which can easily be adjust to desired consistency by adjusting water.
- ½ Whole Chicken (3.6 lbs), skinned, cleaned and cut into small pieces (about 1.3 lbs / 600 grams after cleaning & cutting)
- 1 ½ tsp. Chili Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 6-8 Whole Cashews (I used 7)
- ⅛ tsp. Cardamom Seeds
- 2 Cloves
- ⅛ – ¼” Cinnamon Stick
- ⅛ tsp. Caraway Seeds
- 1 tsp. Poppy Seeds
- 2 tsp. Coconut Flakes (opt. I liked it better without it)
- 4 tbsp. Oil
- 1 large Onion (200 – 230 grams / 0.4 – 0.5 lbs)
- 2 Cardamoms
- 1-2 Cloves
- Tiny piece of Cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp. Caraway Seeds
- 2 tbsp. Ginger Garlic Paste
- 2 – 4 small Green Chilies, cut in half (I used 4)
- 1 ½ – 2 tsp. Coriander Powder
- 1 – 1 ½ tsp Chili Powder (adjust to taste )
- ¾ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste and mind you chicken is already marinated with salt)
- ¼ tsp. Turmeric Powder
- 1 – 1 ¼ cup Water
- Fresh Kothmir or Cilantro Leaves, chopped for garnish
- Marination – Wash and marinate chicken with salt, chili powder and yogurt for at least ½ hour.
- Masala Powder – Break cashews into small pieces and grind it into powder in spice grinder along with cardamom, cloves, caraway seeds, cinnamon and poppy seeds. If using coconut flakes, add that as well to make the powder. Poppy seeds are usually soaked in water and then ground to paste. I find grinding it directly works better in my grinder.
- Onion Paste – Cut the onion into 4 equal pieces. Chop one piece finely. This is about ¼ – ⅓ cup when chopped. Slice, the rest into ½” long slices. This is less than 1 ¼ cup.
- Take oil in a saucepan and fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Remove fried onion from oil and let cool. Turn of the flame and keep the saucepan aside until ready to make the curry.
- Curry – take the saucepan in which onions for fried and reheat the oil.
- Add whole spices and when they change color, add onions and saute until light brown.
- Add green chilies, ginger garlic and saute until raw smell of ginger is gone.
- Add onion paste and saute until the paste is lightly roasted in oil.
- Add coriander powder, chili powder , salt, turmeric and masala powder. Fry until spices blend in and lightly roasted. If the masala burns, add some water.
- Add marinated chicken and cook until chicken is lightly fried in oil.
- Cover and cook on medium low flame until chicken is partly cooked and oil separates from the masala / curry.
- Add water, give a good stir, cover and bring it to a boil.
- Taste the curry and adjust the spices.
- Continue cooking until chicken is cooked and curry reaches desired consistency.
- Sprinkle cilantro and turn off the flame.
- Serve with white rice, bagara, pulao, biryani or any Indian flat bread or flavored rice.
- I curry is on spicier side. Adjust chili powder & green chilies to taste. I would suggested adding less chili powder, taste it towards the end and add more chili powder if required.
Here is a recap of Cooking Carnival. I will be back on Monday with a new ingredient.
Week 2 – Moong Bean/Dal
Day 1 – Ram Ladoo
Day 2 – Moong Dal Laddu ~ Pesaru Pappu Muddalu
Day 3 – Moong Dal Vegetable Rice ~ Khichdi
Day 4 – Homemade Sprouts & Spouts Stir Fry
Day 5 – Moong Dal Dhokla
Day 6 – Sprouted Moong Beans Chaat