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Thickening/improving chicken curry

Okay, this is not an authentic Indian recipe, I'm sure, as it comes from a "crockery" cookbook. I made this as a test before making it for a group of monks next month (see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9104...). I don't think it's necessary to list all the ingredients, but it's potatoes, carrots, apples, onions, jalapeno, chicken chunks coated in flour and spices--all cooked several hours in the crockpot till the end when you add a can of coconut milk, turn it to high and cook another 30 min. I doubled the recipe and so used 2 cans of coconut milk--but thought it had a bit of a watery/thin taste, not creamy as I had hoped. Made jasmine rice with it too and thought the rice was slightly watery tasting (but perhaps it's because I've gotten used to brown rice now). I did like the raisins and cashews on top (it called for peanuts).

Any suggestions on how to make this a bit creamier without adding any dairy? One thought that occurred to me is that I could have removed some of the potatoes and mashed them up as one does with beans to thicken chili.

My husband thought it was great; I just had an idea in my head of how it ought to taste and it didn't quite achieve it. I'm wondering if tomorrow it might taste better.

One other question: I used Trader Joe's curry powder plus some McCormick "hot Madras" curry powder. Any suggestions for a better curry powder? I understand that Indian cooks make their own mixes and would never buy something called curry powder, but I don't want to get too complicated (or expensive).

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  1. I add some banana, don't know where I came up with the idea but tastes good to me.

    For the seasoning, go to a "oriental store" (that's what they call them here) and get the Indian curry powder that comes in the blue and orange can called Holst's. My can cost $1.99 but it's priceless, as they say.

    1. Did you use "light" canned coconut milk? If so, then swapping to the regular kind will make it thicker and richer tasting. The mashed potato would be a good way to thicken as well, just be sure to make very fine mash to stir in well.
      If you have access to penzy's spices store they have a great curry powder that is very reasonable price.
      Try cooking the rice with half water half good vegetable broth to add flavor, and if you prefer brown rice then make that- nothing is set in stone that it must be served with jasmine rice. The raisins and cashew garnish sounds amazing

      1. Please try the Maesri brand curry paste. One small can makes plenty of sauce for 6+ servings and should be only $1 +/- (depending on where you shop).
        Fry the paste in the bottom of the pot for a few minutes (i.e., one small can of Maesri curry paste of your choice), add two cans coconut milk, 2 tbs. brown sugar, 2 tbs. fish sauce, and 2 tbs. of lime juice.
        When sauce comes together, add veg and protein of your choice; simmer until the protein is cooked and veg is how you like it (we like it very crunchy). I hope you enjoy.

        6 Replies
        1. re: MrsPatmore

          I second the frying in oil of the curry, regardless of brand and whether it's paste or powder. Almond meal (Trader Joe's has it) is another way to thicken the curry.

          1. re: MrsPatmore

            +1 on the Maesri curry, but it is not Indian curry, it is Thai. Delicious still but not like the curry OP is inquiring about.

            1. re: MrsPatmore

              Thanks a lot, I'll look for it. I'm not sure I know what fish sauce is--is there a brand I should look for?

              1. re: Thanks4Food

                Fish sauce doesn't belong in an Indian curry

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  If I want an Indian tasting curry (I didn't even know there were Japanese and Thai curries--I don't get out much), do you have a recommendation?

                  I actually like how mine came out but it used up most of my bottle of TJ's curry powder--and I"m 3 hours away from the nearest TJs. (And I wasn't crazy about the sort of graininess of it. Don't know how to describe but in a curried carrot soup, it didn't dissolve completely and looked like grit.)

            2. Some Indian recipes recommended adding crushed cashewnuts to thicken the curry gravy. Adding quartered potatoes early/mid-point through the cooking time also has a thickening effect.

              1 Reply
              1. re: klyeoh

                Well-ground cashews was also my first thought.

              2. Let It COOL COMPLETELY. Sorry for the shouting. You'd be surprised how much it'll thicken up after cooling.

                My Global foods sells Vermont curry blocks [which we love love love] that are 90% starch thickener and 10% flavouring, so it'd be authentic to add some other type of agent-- potato starch? corn starch? rice flour?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                  You were right: it was WAY better the next day.

                2. What kind of coconut milk are you using? I find that Thai brands are much thicker and richer--good for curry--than Latin brands, for example. And I upvote the advice about frying the curry in oil. You can also use more of it--having just what's coating the chicken chunks doesn't sound like much, considering all the other stuff you're using.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Lady_Tenar

                    Thanks for the advice--all I could find was Badia and Goya brands. We do have a Whole Foods around and a World Market--and a Penzey's, so maybe I'll take an excursion.

                  2. Remove the vegetables and chicken (don't want to overcook them), and boil the sauce till it is reduced to the consistency you want.

                    PS; I fry my curry paste in some ghee to start, then add small amounts of coconut milk and fry that till almost dry. Do this a few times before adding the rest of the coconut milk and you'll get some really layered flavors.

                    1. Are the chicken chunks on the bone? I find if I get a chicken chopped up into around 16 pieces, with plenty of cracked-open bones, my curry thickens naturally with collagen and whatnot.

                      1. Can you post the exact recipe and its context?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          Not sure what you mean by "context" but here it is from the ever-so-famous "Crockery Dinners". I'm pretty sure I picked this up 20 years ago at a Barnes and Noble where they've got the el cheapo big photo recipe books.

                          Chicken Curry
                          3 T AP flour
                          3 T curry powder
                          1.5 t gr cumin
                          1 t salt
                          1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1" pieces
                          2 c peeled and chopped potatoes
                          1.5 c. bias-sliced carrots
                          1 c coarsely chopped cooking apple
                          .75 c choped onion
                          2 cloves garlic, minced
                          1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped
                          1 t instant chicken bouillon granules
                          1/2 c water
                          1 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
                          hot cooked rice
                          chopped peanuts (I used cashews)

                          Flour, curry powder, cumin and salt go into a ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
                          Throw all the veggies into the crockpot, top with bouillon, then chicken, then water (I added water before the chicken). Cover, cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. For last 30 minutes put on high and add coconut milk. Serve over cooked rice and top with raisins and peanuts/cashews.

                          I doubled everything except the jalapeno--got the largest one they had (and had to look up here on Chowhound what to do for a burning hand after chopping up a jalapeno!). Really wanted to use thighs, but chicken breasts were a third the price so I went with them.

                          When I make this in future, I will definitely wait to serve it the second night.

                          1. MDH is a pretty decent brand of curry powder. It will be cheapest at an Indian grocery but u can get it online too. Have u thought about using corn starch or flour as a thickening agent. I know many Indian restaurants that use flour.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Kalivs

                              It's "hygienic"? http://www.ranisworldfoods.com/mdh-ma... I wonder what that means?

                              I was going to make a visit to World Market today; I think there's an Indian grocery store not too far from it.