Simple Chicken Curry

Did you know that Bangladeshis run 85-90% of all Indian restaurants in the UK? Despite the notoriety attached to curry strips like Brick Lane, the amount of authentic Bangladeshi cuisine out there  remains limited. Enter me. I am here to bring you a taste of some real Bangladeshi home cooking that has been handed down through the generations. And let me tell you this, home cooking is 150% better than anything you will try in an Indian restaurant.
Let’s start off with my version of an everyday chicken curry, which is found in most Bangladeshi households. This is something that can easily be adapted to include lots of other vegetables, such as potato, with a few tweaks. As it is an everyday curry, it does not feature any heavy creams or sauces and can easily be knocked up in an hour. This curry is packed with flavour and the gentle heat is perfect to warm you up in these cold winter evenings.  

It all starts off with a few simple ingredients. Onion, garlic and ginger are our staples for any meat or chicken curry base along with a few ground spices. My three whole spices, cinnamon, bay leaves and cardamon are also always included in any curry including meat or chicken. The three add a sweetness and fragrance that complements the heat of the chilli powder.

Start off by adding your minced garlic to hot oil. Wait for the garlic to turn a little golden and then add your sliced onion. I’ve made it easier for myself here by slicing the onions , but for years my mum used to make me grate the onion. Yes, you heard right, grate! It does help in creating a smoother base a little faster, but boy does it make the eyes water. I do still mince garlic and ginger using the fine side of a grater, but you could use a garlic press or a food processor.

After you’ve added the onions, add the minced ginger and then 1/2 teaspoon of salt to help the onion soften. Then add your whole spices. You’ll need to wait a few minutes for the onions to soften. Stir occasionally and add a few tablespoons of water if you find that it keep catches the pan.

Once your onions have soften down to a mush, you can go ahead and add your ground spices. My go to quantity for any chicken or meat curry is a 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of curry powder and 1/2 teaspon of cumin powder. You can use less chilli powder if you would like the curry to be less spicy. But I add the teaspoon of chilli powder for colour as much as for the heat.

Give the spices a few minutes to cook out. Again make sure you’re stirring, and add a few tablespoons of water if it catches the side of your pan. Then you can add your chicken. We only ever use chicken on the bone. We usually ask our butcher to cut up a whole chicken into about 8-10 pieces. It’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken and also the chicken is a lot more tender. I often find that boneless chicken breast can become quite dry.

Coat your chicken in the masala. Cover and leave to cook on a medium heat.

Leave the chicken to cook covered on a medium to high hear. You may want to occasionally stir to make sure nothing sticks to the pan. You need to wait long enough for all of the water to come out of the chicken. My mum has always, always told me not to rush this part. You’ll know the water has come out of the chicken when the amount of liquid in your pan about doubles.

After two or three more minutes, you can add a chopped tomato if you wish. If you’re not a fan of tomatoes you can just omit this step. It tastes just as yummy without it.

Wait a few miutes for the tomatoes to soften, then add water. I use a regular sized coffee mug to measure this, and add about a mug and a half. It should be enough water to just about cover the chicken. Cover and simmer on a medium to high heat for about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt to your taste,

Garnish with coriander and voila! Your simple chicken curry is now ready to eat.

Serve with plain, boiled rice, as is the tradition in Bangladeshi cuisine. Alternatively, it tastes just as good with breads such as naan or chappati.

Simple Chicken Curry

Serves: 4-8  

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour

by Abida at The Red Lychee

Ingredients:

1 Medium sized onion, sliced.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inch piece of ginger, minced
6 tablespoons oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, snapped into 3 pieces
4 green cardamoms
1 kg chicken, cut into about 10-12 pieces
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1-2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
Water
Salt to season

Method:

1) Add oil to pan and wait for it to heat up.

2) Add the minced garlic. Wait for garlic to turn golden, then add your onions and minced ginger.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to help onion soften. Then add cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves.

3) Wait for onions to soften then add chilli powder, turmeric, curry powder and cumin. Allow spices to cook off on a medium heat. Stir and add a few tablespoons of water if it catches the pan.

4) Then add chicken. Stir to coat in sauce. Cover and leave to cook on a medium to high heat for about 10 minutes so that all the water comes out of the chicken.

5) After a few minutes, add the tomatoes. Leave tomatoes to soften with the lid on.

6) Add about a cup and a half of water, enough to cover the chicken. Cover and leave to bubble on a medium to high heat for 5-10 minutes.

7) Season with salt to taste. Garnish with coriander and serve with plain rice or bread

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