First off, take stock of your spice cabinet. If you don’t have spices like cardamom, cumin, curry, etc., this might be a slightly expensive endeavor the first time out. Spices can run anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00, depending on what you need and your location. Some were readily available in the McCormick section, others were only available in the fru-fru Spice Hunter brand. With that warning aside, let’s get started!
Here’s what you will need:
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (or more, depending on how much heat you like)
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 10), cut into cubes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups chopped onions (this is about one large white onion)
- 1 14.5 – 16-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Take the vinegar, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and red pepper and put them in a blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the mustard seed and blend until smooth. Transfer to a fairly large bowl and add the chicken and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat the chicken and let it sit for a little while to let those delicious spices marinate.
In a large heavy pot, heat the remaining olive oil and add the onions. Saute over medium-high heat until golden brown (about 5 minutes). This may require lots of stirring to get that nice color and to prevent burning. Add the chicken and let it brown for a few minutes; this will seal in the flavor.
Once again, keep stirring. Add the tomatoes, juice and all, and the cinnamon stick. Put the lid on it and simmer for about a half hour. If it’s longer, I don’t think it’ll hurt anything.
While your chicken is simmering, get your rice ready. I recommend Basmati. The instructions on the bag that I used said to soak the rice in cold water for 15 minutes, and then cook for ten, so that’s what I did. I also threw in a dash of cumin while it was cooking, which made it smell nice and closer to how it smells at the restaurant I mentioned earlier.
Once the chicken is tender, season with salt to taste and add the remaining tablespoon of mustard seed. Simmer uncovered until liquid starts to dissipate and sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick, stir in cilantro, and serve.
This recipe was incredibly delicious, but I do have a couple adjustments that I will make next time. First, I will get a blender or food processor to puree the spices. I tried squishing them through my garlic press, and while I don’t think the food suffered, my hands smelled like the spices for at least a day or two. Second, I think I will use either crushed or pureed tomatoes. At the previously mentioned restaurant, the sauce for this dish has a much smoother texture, and I think I prefer that. All said, this was fairly easy and now that my cabinet is stocked with the right spices, it will be fairly inexpensive to make. Two thumbs up!