This recipe came to us by a circuitous route. We saw it in the December 5, 2015, edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The newspaper’s food editor, Jess Fleming, published her version of this recipe, claiming that it the birthday favorite of her usual picky-eater daughter. Ms. Fleming further credits the recipe to Raghavan Iyer, a well-known Indian chef. The original recipe seems to come from Mr. Iyer’s book, Indian Cooking Unfolded.
Whew! Wherever it comes from, this recipe is a keeper. We have a number of Indian cuisine dishes in our regular repertoire, but this one will nudge its way to the top of the list. The preparation is easy, but the blending of the curry ingredients is a must. Enjoy!
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 pieces fresh ginger (each about the size and thickness of a quarter), unpeeled and coarsely chopped
2 tsp Raghavan’s spice blend or 2 tsp sweet curry (we used Penzey’s brand)
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with their juices
1/2 cup half-and-half
1&1/2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes or until onion is light brown around edges. Sprinkle spice blend into skillet. Stir to mix. Cook for 10 seconds or until aromas dramatically change. Add tomatoes. Stir once or twice. Reduce heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until tomato pieces soften, excess moisture evaporates,and some oils in spices start to dot edge of sauce. Add half-and-half. Using wooden spoon, scrape bottom of skillet once or twice to deglaze pan.
To puree curry: Transfer chunky curry to blender. Holding lid down, puree curry until slightly curdled-looking but smooth and saffron-orange hued.
To cook chicken: Return sauce to skillet. Stir in chicken and salt. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken, when cut with fork or knife, is cooked through, no longer pinkish-red and its juices run clear.
To serve: Sprinkle cilantro over chicken curry. Serve over hot rice.
Raghavan’s Spice Blend
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole cloves
12-15 dried red cayenne chiles (like chiles de arbol), stems discarded
1 tsp ground turmeric
Place coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves and chiles in spice grinder. Grind to consistency of finely ground black pepper. Stir in turmeric, which will turn spice blend yellow. Store in tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat and humidity, for up to 3 months