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May 21, 2009 03:53 AM

Help making curry

Can anyone help me plan a curry?
We currently have some drumsticks and some onions.
Spice wise I have paprika, dried mexican chiles (poblanos, habaneros, chipotles) - which I probably won't use - chili powder, chili flakes, ground fennel, fennel seeds, 5 spice salt and pepper.
I can get more stuff from the supermarket too. Garam masala?

I definitely want spinach in it, and it will probably be fairly hot (I can judge this ok myself). The other thing I want to do is really get the meat to soak up the flavour, so I want to either marinade it for a long time, and/or slow-cook it in my LC in the oven.

Any advice?

Oh, and I always worry about damaging my pans when toasting spice (they say don't leave the pans with nothing in) I suppose I can do this with a cheap SS pan?

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  1. Soop,
    Here's a link to my report of an eggplant curry I recently made using a curry recipe from the current COTM, "Cradle of Flavor," by James Oseland. Rubee made the same recipe and her report follows mine. Perhaps you could read through and get an idea of what spices were used, and what proceedure to follow. There are many different versions of curries and cooks have their own personal recipes handed down through the family. I love them all!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Thanks Gio - how sweet was it?

    2. Ok, I think I'll make up my own spice mix. I'm going to read up on some spices and use my favorites. Let's see what that garam masala is all about.

      Ok, so that's a mix. I think I'll have
      bay leaf
      chili powder
      a habanero or two
      5 spice
      saffron (I don't really get saffron, but I have some so I might as well)
      ground fennel

      I bet that will taste well nice!

      Still need a method though. Slow cooked tenderness.

      1. Usually the meat and veg of a curry are cooked together. The meat is seldom done in big hunks like wings or thighs. Marinating is fine, but curried meat doesn't really "soak up the flavor", it gets coated with flavor (sauce). Cut the meat into bite sized pieces so it will cook properly along with the veggies.

        Damaging pans - roasting spices only takes a minute or three tops. NEVER walk away from a skillet toasting seeds or spices. IMHO if you can't dedicate that much time to getting it right; don't bother.

        6 Replies
        1. re: KiltedCook

          I had one pan smoke up, and I thought it was the teflon burning!
          It was just the chile though.

          Cut the meat up... Hmmm. I kind of wanted it on the bone. I think I'll stick with that.
          How about this:

          The Curry

          cardamom pods
          bay leaf
          chili powder
          a habanero or two
          5 spice
          ground cumin
          ground fennel
          mustard seeds

          2 Onions
          5 Cloves Garlic
          Some spinach
          Fresh chiles
          Sour cream
          1 cup Chicken stock
          1/2 cup canola oil*

          1: toast off spices, grind.
          2: Sweat chopped onions and garlic
          3: Add chicken and spice mix and cook for a few (5-10?) minutes
          4: Add boiling chicken stock, canola oil, top with water
          5: slow cook for 5 hours
          6: Add the sour cream and spinach. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes

          1. re: Soop

            Sounds like a very interesting masala you've got there. I would take out the Five Spice, myself -- it might be just a bit too much clove/cinnamon for chicken -- and I would leave the cardamom pods whole as well as perhaps add some ginger to the onion and garlic. The fenugreek sounds like a nice touch with the spinach. 5 hours does sound like an excessively long time, though. I don't imagine that dish taking more than an hour on the stove.

            1. re: JungMann

              Fenugreek was my friends suggestion (I've never heard of it, but he said to him, it's the difference between an average curry and an amazing one).

              Yeah, maybe a little ginger would go in, and as you're the second to veto the 5spice, I'll take your advice.

              The 5 hours is kind of to let the flavours really steep. As long as the sauce is really thick, I guess I could leave it for 24 hours and re-heat it.

              What about the method - leaving the cream till last with the spinach?

              1. re: Soop

                I understand the logic, but I don't think it'll work the way you think with chicken. You'll just end up overcooking it. Fenugreek is somewhat unnecessary, though a handful of leaves does add a nice flavor to spinach. In the UK, you may have encountered it as methi, which is the Hindi/Urdu name signs here use. If you're using cumin, I would consider subbing coriander for the fennel to balance it out. A little cumin goes a long way with chicken.

                If we're going to get really into the method, I would recommend leaving all your spices whole and frying them once the ginger, garlic and onions have begun to darken. Sauté for about 1 minute or until the oil separates from the spices. Add the habaneros. Add the chicken and stock and stew until tender, scraping the bottom of the pot ocassionally. Add spinach and fenugreek leaves and more water if necessary. Stir and scrape pot until thick. Add a few tablespoons of hot liquid to sour cream or yogurt and gradually add to the stew. Finish with garam masala.

                1. re: JungMann

                  "I would recommend leaving all your spices whole and frying them once the ginger, garlic and onions have begun to darken. Sauté for about 1 minute or until the oil separates from the spices. Add the habaneros"

                  You mean fry off the spices seperately? That's what I would do - the habaneros need to be toasted too.

                  Thanks for your advice JM

                  What happens if you cook chicken to much? Damn, I need to be careful, it's not like beef is it? I know when I cook chicken stew it's alright if you cook it for an hour or so.

                  "If you're using cumin, I would consider subbing coriander for the fennel to balance it out. A little cumin goes a long way with chicken."

                  I'm not a massive fan, so I won't use much. Hate coriander. What I'll probably do is mix the spices together in a bowl and smell them before I toast them and add them.

                  1. re: Soop

                    You needn't fry the spices separately. In South Asian cooking, one toasts the spice mixture (the masala) in the oil before adding the other ingredients to bring out its flavor. If you want to punch up the flavor even more, you can fry spices in oil/butter and use that mixture as a drizzle (tarka) on top of your curry at the end.

                    Overcooked dark meat isn't like beef, it will still retain its moisture for a good while, but it falls off the bone and will leave you with a thick sauce dotted with meat and interspersed with bare bones and loose tendons.

        2. Remove the skin from the drumsticks. Otherwise I'd leave them whole. Figure on cooking the meat for a hour or more. The marinade makes most sense if you are cooking the chicken quickly (tandorri style). It is less necessary with a long cooked stew.

          For thickening, Indian stews (curries) usually depend on cooking the vegetables, especially the onion to the point it disintegrates. Sometimes the onion is processed into a puree before cooking, usually with garlic and ginger.

          I wouldn't recommend using the 5 spice - it adds too much of a Chinese quality to the dish. I wouldn't used the chili powder either. If you don't have spices like cumin, coriander (seeds), cardamom, and cinnamon, then you need something like garam masala. A curry paste in a jar (e.g. Pataks brand) is a good base if you don't have a lot of spices on hand. If you get a mild one, you could use your dried chiles to add heat to taste.

          Other than fennel seeds, I don't see whole spices that you might toast. For toasting I use either a small cast iron skillet, or a beater aluminum (not coated).

          If you want it to be yellow, you need turmeric.

          7 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            I'm not too worried about the colour. It will probably end up looking like my chili which is fine.
            Tumeric tastes quite bitter right?

            I'd definitely like to make this one special in some way... special...
            Don't want any fruit in it. Maybe another vegetable. I suppose potatoes could be good? I could just chuck some chopped waxy ones in.

            I know, what about fresh lemon (juice)? Or lemon balm?

            1. re: Soop

              In large quantities turmeric is bitter, but not at the level of a teaspoon or two in a stew. It's pretty bland.

              From 'The classic 1000 indian recipes', Foulsham (UK) 1994, a simple 'chicken palak' (palak means spinach or other greens)
              fry 2 sliced onions, 5 cloves garlic (crushed) till soft
              add 2 cloves, 5ml ground coriander,
              2 tomatoes (skinned and chopped), 450g spinach (chopped)
              5 min till spinach is wilted
              season with S&P
              add chicken (1 skinned, cut into portions)
              cover and simmer 45 min, till chicken is tender

              1. re: Soop

                A more complex lamb with spinach, which could be adapted to chicken seasons with:
                bay leaves, ginger (4cm), ground coriander, ground roasted cumin,
                garam masala, rid chilli, turmeric (1/2 tsp)

                Another with a yogurt sauce (also spinach) uses:
                black mustard seeds,
                cardamonm seeds, ground coriander, crushed black pepper (1/2 tsp), chopped green chillies,
                ginger root, turmeric (1 tsp), 3 T yogurt. (3lb spinach

                And from a search on 'chicken palak'
                and one that uses your fennel
                a lot of the items in this search are evidently by Indians (due to the 'palak' term), and call for things like 'curd' (yogurt or paneer?)

                  1. re: Soop

                    When I make curry chicken I chop up my vegetables like onion garlic scallion and scotchbonnet plus some thyme and rub down the chicken on the bone with the curry seasonings and chopped veg the night before. The day of I fry some of the curry in oil and once it has permeated I add in the chicken with vegetables and let it stew. The curry mixed with all the vegetables create one flavor full of layers that can be tasted in the meat and down to the marrow.

                    1. re: kayEx

                      The thyme and scotchbonnet suggest this is a Jamaica style curry. No allspice?

                      1. re: paulj

                        Sorry for forgetting to leave it out the Allspice. And yes it is technically Jamaican Style but the type of pepper is completely up to person I suppose and the herb could be left out if not desired. I was more so stating my method to get to part about how the rubdown with the spices and vegetables gets the flavors deep in there.

            2. Ok, it's all cooking. I used 2 onions, about 5 big cloves of garlic, 4 drumsticks and 8 thighs. It's a little cramped, but fine.

              Now it's simmering away, and I propose to add the sour cream and spinach slightly later.

              The spices I used were:
              2 bay leaves
              Dried fenugreek
              1 cinnamon stick
              garam masala
              mustard seeds
              a liitle ground fennel
              fresh ginger
              cardamom pods
              2 habaneros (dried)
              Fresh red chile
              ground cumin

              Think that's it. Oh and 2 stock jellies. The sauce tastes good right now.

              I fried the chicken off, just browned it a little before adding it to the onions.

              But, back to the orignal question, when's good to add the cream?