Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sub-Continent Delight: Kerala Chicken Curry

Europe is merely powerful; India is beautiful. – Savitri Devi 

Kerala. Photo: Sylvianism1, Flickr ccl
Kerala is an interesting place. It is located in India on the south-west tip of the country.  According to a survey conducted  by The Economic Times (India's leading business newspaper), half of the ten of the best cities to live in India are located in Kerala.

Kerala is popular with tourists because of its unspoiled nature. It has the highest literacy rate in the country (99%) and hopes to be the first completely e-literate state in India. It also is currently the only state to have banking facilities in every village. That's a development feat in itself.

So much for what most North Americans think of India… Our apologies.

Kerala has a very rich culinary heritage as well due to its location. Over millenia it has had contact with traders from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Europe. All these influences have made their way into the kitchen traditions of the region.

This curry is an excellent example. The use of tomatoes and chilli peppers are two obvious outside influences in this wonderful dish.

Brown the onions slowly taking care not to burn.
In this photo they've just been added.
This curry is not your standard fare – yet at the same time it is. It’s hard to describe, and exceptionally good. The ingredients in the spice mix makes this curry different from any other I’ve ever had.

Give it a try. It won’t disappoint.

Kerala Chicken Curry
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook 35 min  |  Serves 4
3 lb chicken, cut into serving pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1-1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
6 whole cloves
4” cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
8 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 lg onion, chopped
3 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 tbsp chopped garlic
3 hot green chillies, chopped
2 tsp garam masala
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
salt to taste

Cut the chicken into serving sized pieces.

Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and fry on both sides until golden brown and nearly cooked through. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Add the spices (black pepper, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom) to the oil in the pan and fry until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and sauté until the onions begin to brown. 

It's important to brown but not burn the onions. Cooked properly they add great depth of flavour.

Add the tomatoes and coriander to the pan, scrape the bottom of the pan until any fond begins to release and then cover. Let cook for 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes the tomato should be fairly broken down. Check the sauce for salt.

Nestle the chicken into the sauce, place the cover on slightly ajar, and let cook for an additional 7-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with basmati rice and more coriander if desired.


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