When the adept Tadka chef is witness to such phrases as, Country Captain curried stew, or chicken curry in a hurry, coming out of the mouths of some of the stalwarts in the food business, like John Edge and Rachael Ray, she lets out a grunt. Then, there are folks like Tyler Florence who stir considerable rumpus over Thai chicken curries in red, yellow and green hues. While one of these high-falutin recipes would simply be fishing for a Fancy Nancy tag over its Savannah spice heritage, another could well be clogging up arteries with its coconut milk overdose. Wanting nothing more than to put an end to this unwarranted clamor filling up her prudent head, the Tadka chef dons her tall hat and sylvan apron, all set to create magic with her very own heart-healthy version of a modest Chicken Curry,bordering on Thai-like flavors, and saturated with a homelike, robust essence. And unlike Rachael Ray, she’s in no hurry to prove her point. She lets her hair down, pours herself some Pam’s Little Red, and tunes into the rhythm of Bela Fleck as she readies the tall order of spices and condiments to gussy up her chicken.
Tadka’s Own Chicken Curry
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – about 1.65 lbs (approximately .75 Kg), cut, cleaned and marinated overnight in the refrigerator. (Take it out 1 hour before cooking).
For the marinade:
- ½ Teaspoon each of turmeric, salt, red chilli powder
- ¼ Tablespoon light olive oil
For the gravy:
- 2 Tablespoons grated fresh coconut
- 1 Teaspoon each of coriander seeds and cumin
- 1 Green chilli, chopped
- A handful of cilantro, chopped
- ¼ Teaspoon whole pepper
- 1 Tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 Small onion, chopped
- 1 Stalk of lemongrass, chopped
- Salt according to taste
Grind the above to a sheer smoothness with a splash of cold water. Keep aside.
For the curry:
- 1 Tablespoon light olive oil
- ¼ Teaspoon cumin
- 1 Small Onion, sliced thin and long
- 1 Medium-sized red bell pepper, sliced thin and long
- ½ Medium-sized green bell pepper, sliced thin and long
For the garnish:
- 1 Sprig of basil leaves, finely chopped
- A few lemon wedges
In a pan, warm half of the olive oil (1/2 tablespoon) and throw in the marinated chicken pieces. Cover and let cook under low flame until tender. Take the pieces out and put them away in a bowl. Now add the remaining ½ tablespoon oil, and add the cumin, onions and peppers, fry until they cook down. Put the chicken back in the pan, saute for a minute and then add the ground masala paste. Add ½ cup of water (or more, depending on preferred thickness), salt to taste, and let it simmer for about 12 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves and lemon wedges and serve with hot Basmati rice. If you’re still with the Tadka chef in spirit, you’ll probably shake a leg to the Hoedown number she’d been tuning into, to say thank you. That’s if you can get off your chair after this delectable meal, needless to say..