Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

My friend Jennifer recently went to Sri Lanka and came back bearing gifts of Sri Lankan spices…a roasted fenugreek and mustard seed mix and a meat (Masala) spice mix. Looking for inspiration to use these spices I found a chicken curry recipe in Australian chef Peter Kuruvita’s recipe book, Serendip. This recipe is based on his with a few tweaks, it is really a 4 step process beginning with making the thickening mixture, marinating the chicken, getting the ingredients for the braising prepared and then actually cooking the curry. The result is a creamy curry with well balanced spice. Thanks Peter!

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

1. Thickening Mixture:
1 tablespoon long grain rice
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut
2 red chillies, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 green cardamom pods
2 cloves

2. Marinating mixture
1.5 kg chicken thigh fillets, fat removed and cut into medium size chunks
2 teaspoons cumin powder
3 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon roasted fenugreek and mustard seed mix
1 stick cinnamon bark or stick
2 teaspoons Sri Lankan meat curry powder (or South Indian Meat masala mix)
Thickening mixture paste (see above)

3. Braising ingredients
1/3 cup vegetable or coconut oil
1 onion finely diced
2 sprigs curry leaves
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1.5 cups hot water

4. Garnish
Chopped coriander

Method

1. Make thickening mixture by putting rice and desiccated coconut in a small heavy based pan over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning until coconut is browned. Place the rice and coconut in a mortar and pestle with cardamom pods, 1/2 teaspoon salt and red chillies, cloves and a tablespoon of water into a mortar and pestle, then grind until a smoothish paste forms.

2. Place chicken in a bowl, add all marinating ingredients including thickening mixture paste, toss to coat and leave to stand aside while you prepare the braising ingredients.

3. Chop onions, pound garlic, remove curry leaves from sprig, and gather together oil, water and spice ingredients for braising.

4. Heat oil in a casserole pot over medium heat, add curry leaves and heat until leaves stop spluttering, add onions and cook gently until transparent, add garlic and heat through. Add the chicken and salt, and mix through until chicken is sealed, then add 1 cup of hot water or enough to just cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low-medium heat for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked and sauce is reduced to a creamy consistency.

5. Garnish with coriander before serving with rice and salad/veggies of your choice. This is delicious with dhal as well.

Durban style Indian Boneless Chicken Curry

A staple in any South African Indian family, my version includes a dollop of yoghurt towards the end which makes for a creamier sauce. This is perfect served just with a salad and rice for a very tasty but healthy meal.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:

4 medium size chicken thigh fillets, any fat removed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 tspoons ginger and garlic paste (4 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger pounded into a paste)
1 brown onion, cut in half, then finely sliced
1 tomato cut into chunks
2 pieces cinnamon bark or 1 quill
Handful of fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 tesapoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
1.5 cup water or chicken stock
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

Method:

1. Heat oil in heavy based pot over medium heat, and then add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds, cardamom pods and curry leaves.

2. When spices are fragrant, add onions and cook slowly until translucent.

3. Add ginger and garlic paste and mix through.

4. Add cummin powder, turmeric powder and chilli powder. Stir until fragrant but be careful not to burn.

5. Add chicken pieces stirring until chicken is sealed and beginning to change colour.

6. Add salt, tomato pieces and water to just cover chicken.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked and liquid is reduced.

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7. Add a dollop of yoghurt and mix through. Bring back to simmer for 5 minutes.

8. Taste to see if extra salt needed. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves 2 as main dish

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