Chicken Curry

Red dried chilies (hot ones)
Cumin whole
Coriander whole seeds
Cardamom green whole

Garam masala whole
6 onions
5 garlic cloves
9 chicken thighs skinless
Ginger root
Cardamom black whole
Cloves whole
Cinnamon bark
Tumeric ground

24-32 oz Swansons chicken broth
5-6 tablespoon ghee
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
4-5 curry leaves

Leona's comments: Usually curry in the store has ground ginger, salt, and preservatives. Curry should be made with fresh ginger. If you buy curry powder, you don't know the balance of the spices.

  • 20 chiles
Remove the stems from top and break them apart so they will fit in the grinder better later.
Cook chiles over a low heat until you can smell them, but not until they smoke. The heat releases the aromatic oils.
Put them on a plate to cool. After cooled, grind them in coffee grinder to a very fine powder.
(20 chiles makes about 4 tablespoons of powder but this recipe only uses 1½ tablespoons.

CURRY POWDER PREP (also called a garam)
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon green cardamon
  • 1 black cardamon seed, whole
  • 10 whole cloves
  • About 3 inches of cinnamon bark chunks
Cook dry in shallow pan until aromatic oils start to release.
Stir constantly since cumin burns easily.
Cool on plate then grind to a fine powder.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the ground chili powder to the curry powder.
  • Add 1 tablespoon tumeric powder. It is a root like ginger; same family.
We bought a bag of garam masala which contained lots of loose spices.
Leona measured about 2 tablespoons of the smaller loose spices at the bottom of the bag.
She included 1 star anise, 1 black cardamon, 1 bay leaf.
She did NOT include the peppers nor the dried ginger from the bag since we are adding our own fresh ginger and ground chili.

Heat garam masala spices until aromatic and put on plate to cool. Grind to powder.
Put 1 tablespoon of ghee in saucepan with 1+ tablespoon garam masala powder and barely bring to boil/foam to release flavor.
It burns easily. The oil is the important part here; when you use the garam masala later, get the oil, not the spices.

  • 6 medium sized onions - quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic
Prep quartered onions and garlic in food processor.
Process until it is like watery mashed potatoes.

We had nine chicken thighs with skin removed.

Bloom the curry mix
  • 3 tablespoon (rounded) ghee - put in large sauce pan and melt.
  • 4 tablespoon curry/chili/turmeric mixture - mix in with ghee over heat to "bloom" the curry.
Add rest of ingredients
  • Onion/garlic puree - when the ghee foams and starts to not quite boil...don't burn...add the onions/garlic puree.
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 inch larger root or 1½ inch thinner ginger root - add the ginger which has been peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices.
  • 4-5 curry leaves (I keep them in the freezer)
Carmelizing onions
  • Cook out the excess onion water.
  • It will remain mushy and all the juices won't disappear completely.
  • Keep tasting it so you can tell when it converts the sugars and carmelizes.
  • If the onions are really pungent, the flavor can be tamed by adding a tablespoon or so of brown sugar.
Adding chicken and broth
  • Add about 24 oz Swanson's chicken stock to the onion mixture. (We started with 32oz broth and it was a little too much.)
  • Add chicken thighs and let simmer on fairly high heat.
Finishing up
  • After chicken has been cooking about 15 minutes, add about ½ of the garam masala/ghee mixture.
  • Let cook another 15 minutes or so until the meat is falling off the bone.
  • Coconut milk - when chicken is done, add 13.5 oz can of coconut milk and heat another 5 minutes; don't let it overcook or it will separate.
This recipe came from notes I made when my dear friend Leona came to stay. The first curry I ever ate (and enjoyed) was cooked for me by Leona when I was visiting her and Charlie in Bakersfield back in the 90s. I had no idea food could be that kick ass hot, yet taste so divine. Leona gave me the gift of her time and tutelage in 2013 when she visited my house, walked me through an Indian grocery, talked me through understanding the kitchen science of the various ingredients, then demonstrated how to make chicken curry. This recipe came from the notes I made while we were cooking. Thank you Leona!

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