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Really Basic Chicken Curry Recipe?

(I did a quick search on Chowhound and the Net, and didn't quite find what I was looking for.)

I just bought a couple of kinds of curry powder from a spice store on an impulse. Basically, I want to cook it with some cut up chicken breasts and make some kind of sauce out of it, then eat that over rice. I know nothing about Indian cuisine, as I'm sure my last sentence demonstrated. A lot of the recipes I found called for things like coconut milk, which I do not have.

Right now, I know I'm supposed to saute some onions and garlic, then add the spice powder to bloom it. Not exactly sure where to go from there. Sorry if this is a really stupid question, but can I get some easy suggestions?

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  1. Your question has so many possible answers and preparations simply because Curries are so personal and beloved in so many cultures and countries, from Asia to the Caribbean.

    A simple prep:
    In a heavy sauce pan bring up to heat 2 table spoons neutral oil.
    When just smoking add 3 heaping table spoon full of curry powder and stir until evenly browned and fragrant.
    Add breasts skin down and flip over when separated from pan, season with salt and pepper, brown on other side then add sliced onions,tomatoes and cubed potatoes. Turn to coat and add stock or water until just covering, turn down heat and cover for about 10 minutes, season to taste.
    Cover and test chicken and potatoes for seasoning and doneness {sic}
    Serve over rice, garnish with cilantro, diced hard boiled egg,fried garlic or garbanzos and chutney.
    Go crazy and make the recipe your own... enjoy.

    1. You can do this in a slow cooker or a big deep baking dish in the oven. Start by putting 1/3 cup flour in the dry (cooker or dish). With this mix 1 tsp salt, 1 tablespoon curry powder, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Mix in an 8-oz can of tomato sauce. Slowly add four cans (same can) of water, stirring and mashing so the flour doesn't lump. Add the cut-up raw chicken, a couple of onions cut up, and a bag of frozen peas (no need to thaw them). If you're using a slow cooker just put the lid on, turn it on, and let it cook for 8 hours. If you're using the baking dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 300*---and check from time to time to see if you need to add more water. Now I expect that somebody is going to post that this recipe is not authentic Indian curry and they will be right, but it is delicious and easy and my family likes it. You can adjust the seasoning to your taste using more curry, salt, garlic. Unless you really hate peas don't omit them as they add a nice Indian-like mushiness. You can freeze the leftovers for future use.

      There is a different dish I make, like this: Melt a whole stick of butter and in it saute the curry powder and garlic (brings out the flavor of the curry) and also a handful of raisins (I prefer the golden ones) and an onion or two, chopped. Add this to hot cooked rice. You could add cooked chicken at this point. I have done it with poached salmon to make a kedgeree.

      1. Brown your chicken pieces skin side down until they release, and set them aside or push them to the side of the pan if it is very large. In the rendered fat, gently saute your onion and garlic until it is honey colored. Add oil or butter or ghee if the pan needs it. Clear some space in the pan and stir the curry powder in it until it has been coated with oil and gives off a heady aroma. If you removed the chicken, return it to the pan, skin side up. Then add broth or water or canned tomato product or coconut milk or any combination. Add any other vegetables you'd like, cutting long-cooking ones fine enough so everything will cook in the same period of time.
        Cover and simmer. You can add things like raisins and nuts just before serving. The whole thing should take no more than 45 minutes to prepare.

        1. super-basic fast and dirty "pantry" chx masala:

          finely mince equal parts garlic and ginger, or alternately grind into a paste, as many indian cooks do. coarse chop 1/2-1 onions per chx breast. cut chx breasts into your preferred bite size chunks. melt 1/2 stick butter over med-high heat in large heavy bottomed saucepan, add onions. when onions become translucent add garlic, ginger, sea salt, and dry curry spices, stir until fragrant. when you have run through the recipe a couple of times you can start to customize your own spice mix/garam masala/curry spice mix to taste if you are comfortable doing that! add chicken pieces and turn to color the pieces and start to cook. before chx has cooked completely add a can of diced tomatoes, scrape/deglaze bottom of pan, stir and raise heat to high. i like to use fire roasted tomatoes for this step but whatever plain canned tomatoes you may have on hand are fine. rinse the tomato can but don't discard the water. next, either (shortcut step) add this water to the chicken in the pan to achieve your desired sauce consistency, bring sauce just to a boil, then lower heat to simmer,. simmer at least 20 minutes, taste sauce and adjust salt and spices to taste. --OR-- if you want to try out this cooking technique-- do not add water at the same time as tomatoes. bring chicken and tomatoes just to a boil, then, keeping the heat at the same constant temperature, add a little of the water at a time, stirring after each addition, in order to keep the curry barely at a whisper below boil. keep adding the water just a tablespoon or 2 at a time. if you pay just a little attention and do it correctly, this technique will thicken the sauce, giving it a thicker, "creamy" consistency without actually using cream. it is an interesting technique i observed in india, i used to know the urdu word for it but i have forgotten. serve chx masala over rice, preferably basmati rice--try steaming the rice w a whole cardamom pod or two. you can also add chopped seasonal vegetables to the chx curry using your best judgment.

          4 Replies
          1. re: soupkitten

            Soupkitten's pretty much nailed it. Fry garlic ginger onion, add curry, chicken, tomato and water.

            I like to finish with something creamy though. Milk, cream, sour cream, coconut milk, anything creamy you have on hand will do. I also like to throw in a handful of raisins for fun (because otherwise I never seem to use my raisins for anything else). A little sprinkle of cilantro and lemon at the end really perks things up.

            1. re: joonjoon

              I use an immersion blender at the end to puree the broth (mainly the cooked onions) to make it a little thicker. Also, I generally use skinless, boneless thigh meat for curry.
              It also sounds like you bought more than 1 kind of curry powder- I'd use one per dish until you learn tgeir nuances

              You can also add some to your rice as you're cooking it.

              I've been using curry powder to make quinoa a little more interesting. I add it to the water as it's boiling, with a tomato and a little red onion.

              I suppose you could add it to eggs and all sorts of foods to give it a little kick.

              1. re: joonjoon

                I do it like this. Definitely cilantro. 6 oz plain yogurt and 1/4 c. ground cashews at the end and allow to thicken for 5 min. V. good.

                1. re: MrsCheese

                  How could I forget yogurt! And I love the sprinkling of nuts at the end too. Those little additions takes it from "really basic" to "damn good!"

            2. Awesome; thank you everyone! I'm going to have fun messing around with this. Seems like the kind of thing that would make good leftovers, too.

              1. Kathleen221: congrats for trying something new! If you like some of these versions, consider branching out. If it's Indian curry you're after, abandon curry powder and try individual spices--makes a world of difference. We wouldn't buy a jar of "French powder" and call that French cooking, no? Curry powder is a good beginning point, but there's a world beyond preblended stuff. Try a simple Indian cookbook; for beginning, I'd suggest Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey--an older but good cookbook. Happy eating!

                3 Replies
                1. re: pine time

                  Oh, I've just gotten Jaffrey's "World Vegetarian" from the library for COTM! I don't think I've ever had any kind of Indian cuisine before, and they were kind of an impulse buy. I came across the webpage for Aarti Party on Food Network and saw a picture of some curry dish and it looked tasty.

                  I got two kinds of curry: One powder, and one that has the whole spices all mixed together. I needed an excuse to use my mortar and pestle. =) If all goes well, maybe "Invitation to Indian Cooking" will be next on my library list.

                  1. re: kathleen221

                    If you really choose to buy preblended curry powder, consider one labeled "Madras curry powder" (well, Madras is now Chennai). It's considerably hotter and, IMHO, more flavorful than the generic ones. Still recommend the individual spices so that you can customize dishes, but that will come as you expand your repertoire. Lightly "toast" any spices--whole or ground--before using to open up the flavors more, but be careful--there's a very fine line between toasted and burned. I learned a lot by trial and error (married an Indian in 1975), and by checking out every Indian cookbook I could find at the library, and there weren't that many at the time! Enjoy your discoveries.

                    1. re: pine time

                      Thank you for the advice! I appreciate the recipes and tips everyone has given me.

                2. just cook it like any other chicken braise or stew

                  1. I used to make this really easy recipe for curried chicken breasts out of Pierre Franey's 60 Minute Gourmet: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_6eKTittKqYY...


                    It gives a recipe for making your own curry powder, but I always bought some at the store.

                    1. How about this "Country Captain" recipe from NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/mag...

                      It's good, easy... and has both chicken and curry powder!

                      1. Can't argue with any of the posts (except those suggesting coconut, but thats a personal preference and I digress), but I will suggest this; once you find that recipe you're very happy with, swap out the chicken with goat. Increase cooking time on low simmer to tenderize meat, put in fridge overnight (to let flavors mature), reheat and bring to potluck dinner party the next day. You'll be the hit of the evening.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: porker

                          Curry goat was my favorite when I lived in South Florida, the Jamaicans liked a blended Madras curry powder from Trinidad called Turban that was hot and smokey and always rinsed the young goat meat with limes.

                            1. re: porker

                              Nice....next you're going to tell me that you have a bottle of Mauby cordial in the fridge and a tawa on the stove....

                        2. You're right on course. Saute some onions (I've never used garlic, but why not?), add curry powder to bloom, then cut up chicken, stir and let chicken brown slightly (if it will), then add chicken broth (water if you don't have chicken broth) and cook til chicken is done. I sometimes added cubed potato or roughly chopped tomatoes to the mix. I learned this while living in Jamaica as a young, newly married, and inexperienced cook and still make it this way when in a hurry. Other vegetables can be added at your pleasure.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: gsElsbeth

                            I also learned to always season twice, once in a mixing bowl with the chicken,onions,tomatoes,potatoes with the curry powder,extra cumin,lime juice,salt and pepper. Then bloom additional curry powder in the oil before browning the chicken parts and just before everything is done cooking, float a whole scotch bonnet pepper on top to add flavor as it steams with the cover closed.

                            1. re: Duppie

                              Once or twice a year I like making it with a half pint of full-fat yogurt and a half pint of sour cream - that's for 4 boneless breast halves. It's decadent and bad for you - but it's yummy! That's using the basic recipe above - onions/oil/curry powder.

                              The oil soaks up a lot of powder so I'll either take off the heat or let it simmer on very low with a little chicken broth or water while I cook the chicken in a separate pan.. Can be whole or cut up - your preference. Combine and add the yogurt and sour cream. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 25 minutes while you're cooking the rice.

                              1. re: pasuga

                                I'll have to try that, I grew up with West Indian curries which have no yogurt or dairy element and that was the basic recipe I described. However I do like to make a big pot of Thai or Malay curry but blending the powder with green curry paste and broken coconut cream. That's when I dial up the heat and wash it down with a 6 pack of Tigers.

                          2. While I have you guys on the line, I have a question. I usually toss my goat in a mix of 2 curry powders, then stir vigorously with finely chopped habanero. It then goes into the fridge overnight to mingle.
                            I'm wondering, since theres nothing in the thread about such a dry rub marinade, is it all for naught?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: porker

                              No. I don't believe so but I very rarely dry rub anything other than baby backs and pork shoulder both of which pick up the rub. However I would add either a vinegar or citrus element to perhaps get a dry paste as opposed to totally dry.

                            2. thANKS FOR THE GREAT THREAD!