Chicken Curry

Submitted by:
Abir Sarbajna, Bochum, Germany
Chemistry

Image Source: Author

Ingredients

Marinade:
1 tablespoon ginger paste
60g yoghurt
8g turmeric powder
4g red chili powder
10g salt
5g lime juice
10g mustard oil

Curry:
800g chicken, preferably with bone, cut and cleaned
250g potatoes, halved or quartered
300g onions, thinly sliced
30g mustard oil
2 pieces dried red chilies
2 pieces bay leaves
3 pieces cardamom
1 piece black cardamom
3 pieces cloves
1 piece cinnamon stick
8 pieces peppercorns
1 tablespoon ginger paste
6g turmeric powder
2g cumin powder
5g coriander powder
3g garam masala
2 tomatoes, chopped/cubed
18g salt
10g sugar
10g coriander leaves, optional, finely chopped)
8 pieces green chilies, slit
400g hot water

1. Marinade: In a mixing bowl large enough to hold all the chicken, combine the components of the marinade: garlic-ginger paste, yoghurt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, lime juice, and raw mustard oil. Give these a good mix and then add the chicken to the bowl. Cover the bowl and rest the marinated chicken in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. For best results, leave it to marinate overnight in the fridge.

2. Curry: Peel and divide the potatoes into 4 cm halves or quarters. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and mix with your hands to coat them yellow and then lightly fry them in 10 g mustard oil and keep them aside.

3. Heat 30 g mustard oil in a pan (Teflon coated). Once the oil has started to smoke lightly and changed color to a pale yellow, temper it with dried red chilies, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns.

Add in the sliced onions, along with the sugar, and fry them for about 8 to 10 minutes, till the onions are brown in color (the sugar at this stage helps the onions caramelize quickly). Be patient, this is the most important step of the cooking.

4. Once the onions have caramelized, add 1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, 4 finely chopped green chilies, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt, along with 75 ml of water. Fry the spices on medium heat till the water dries up. This should take about 5 minutes. Add 2 cubed tomatoes and keep sautéing until the tomatoes are completely mashed up (should take another 5 to 6 minutes).

5. Add the marinated chicken into the pan and mix it with the onions, tomatoes and spices. Cook the chicken on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will ensure that the smell of raw spices from the marinade is gone. Add in the fried potatoes and 4 slit green chilies, and stir them in. Add 400 g of hot water to the pan. This will form the curry.

6. Cover the pan and let the curry bubble for about 15 to 20 minutes under medium heat, or till the chicken and potatoes are tender. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and a pinch of garam masala.

Serve it with piping hot basmati rice. This entire recipe makes 4 large portions/ 6 regular portions.

Background

Around mid-90s when I was in my elementary school, I distinctly remember my father (Baba) bringing freshly cut chicken from the butcher (those days there were no supermarkets in a recently economically liberalized India) on Fridays as he returned from office and handed it over to my mother (Ma). I would be elated and overjoyed knowing my Saturday lunch would be Chicken Curry. Coming from a humble background, these are the moments I hold dear to me even today. As my friends would be playing the next morning, I would remain glued in the kitchen as Ma poured her love and affection into the entire cooking process. After my lunch, I would always have leftovers for dinner and the next day. Little did I realize then, both Baba and Ma ate smaller portions so that I could have more. As years progressed, I would often fight with my brother (Bhai) for the leg piece or the chicken liver and most times I had to bribe (read “con”) him for an extra helping. As I grew up and left home, those weekends and that taste of curry never left my soul.
As a student studying away from home and later as a researcher working on either sides of the Pacific and now in Germany, I seldom get to go home (once every two years if I am lucky). Ma’s health has deteriorated, and we have a household help but when I am visit home, Baba goes to the butcher at the local market and Ma still makes the Chicken Curry on a weekend lunch that the whole family enjoys. This remains a family tradition. Ma is not a professional cook, and I can guarantee every Indian mother makes a mean Curry (not the shambolic spicy versions you get in restaurants!) but that meal always makes me happy. I am certain it is more of Ma’s love and care and less of the ingredients that make the actual difference! Whenever I am sad, homesick, or on a gloomy day, I make a batch of curry that reminds me of my beginnings and rejuvenates me again. I share the ingredients and the recipe with the Humboldt family. Most of the ingredients would be available in a supermarket and there is a Indian shop practically in every major city in Germany or even online Indian shops that deliver items to your doorstep. I will be delighted if anyone makes it and gives me a feedback!

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