BIMLA'S CHICKEN CURRY
This recipe comes from Bimla, who married my cousin Shashi, Saran Bhua's son. The recipe is very like my mother's, only Bimla keeps the sauce thick and clinging to the chicken pieces. It is utterly delicious.
• 3 medium onions (about 1lb/450g), peeled and coarsely chopped
• 20 medium cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 3 inch/7.5cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
• 6 tablespoons olive or other vegetable oil
• 8 green cardamom pods
• 2 x 2 inch/5cm sticks cinnamon
• 8 cloves
• 14 whole peppercorns
• 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder (or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne plus 1/2 teaspoon of a nice red paprika)
• 1 medium chicken, preferably organic, skinned and cut into small serving pieces, net weight about 2lb 10oz/1.25kg
• 11/2 cups (12fl oz/350ml) rich yoghurt
• 11/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
Put the onions into a blender. Add the garlic and ginger and blend until you have a smooth paste.
Put the oil in a large, heavy sauté or frying pan set over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns. Ten seconds later, add the onion paste and the Kashmiri chilli powder. Now stir-fry for about ten minutes, turning the heat down to medium, if necessary, until the paste has turned a rich golden brown.
Whenever it seems to stick, sprinkle in a little water and stir it in. Now add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and stir them in. Again, sprinkle in some water if the sauce sticks to the bottom. When all the chicken has been added, begin to put in the yoghurt, a tablespoon at a time, and stir it in just as you did the water.
When the sauce sticks, add yoghurt and stir it in. Do this for about 10 to 12 minutes. When only 4fl oz/120ml of yogurt are left, put it all in and stir it around. Add the salt as well and stir to mix. Now cover, turn the heat to low and cook for ten minutes, stirring now and then.
Uncover and stir, making sure the sauce is clinging to the chicken.
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