Simple Chicken Curry (bone-in)
1 whole chicken
1 tsp red chile powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 two-inch small pieces of desi cinnamon,
3-4 whole green cardamom
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 ‘petal’ of star anise
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 whole dried Kashmiri red chiles
3 tbsp oil
1/2 large yellow onion (about 2 cups), thinly sliced
1 tsp salt + 1 tsp salt
1 jar or 14oz can of tomatoes
2-3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated garlic
3 tsp grated ginger
Remove the giblet packet inside the chicken, if any. Rinse and pat dry. Cut the whole chicken into 8 large pieces using this excellent method. Dice into smaller pieces leaving as many bones in as possible. I take the skin off but you can leave that on, if you prefer. Add any parts from the giblet packet that you like. Rub with red chile powder and turmeric powder and set aside. If you have the luxury of doing this several hours in advance, please do. Refrigerate it, if you do.
Toast the whole masala (from cinnamon to dried red chiles) on a cast iron skillet on medium-low until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Allow to cool and grind to a powder. The yield is about 2 tbsp of freshly-made garam masala.
Heat oil in large kadhai or saucepan. When it shimmers, add sliced onion and 1 tsp salt and sweat on medium-high until golden-brown and lightly caramelized. This takes at least 15 minutes. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
Add tomatoes and cook down until all moisture has evaporated and you can see oil separating out from the thick mixture. I use my home-canned pint jars that have lemon juice added to them before canning.
Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add grated ginger and garlic, mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add freshly-ground garam masala, mix and cook for 4-5 minutes at the very least. This way the flavors meld better into the mixture. If you add the garam masala before cooking down the tomatoes, you will boil the masala in the moisture and lose the depth of flavor that goes with adding it at this stage. Small details but they matter.
Add the chicken pieces, 1 tsp salt, lemon juice and mix well. I don’t add lemon juice at this point as my tomatoes have added lemon juice for acidity.
Add upto 2 cups of water, mix well, cover and cook on low for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with cilantro, if you wish. I didn’t have any cilantro so I didn’t. Serve over hot steamed rice or with tortas.
I had 4 boiled red potatoes, which I diced and added to the curry in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
This was dinner last night. I also got several lunch boxes worth of chicken curry. And, I made chicken stock in my pressure cooker as the curry was cooking.