Curry is such a treat: smells incredible cooking, such a fun experience to make and full of marvelous flavor. Going gluten free has kept me from eating Indian food out, as much of restaurant cooking can contain wheat based flours. So, making it myself is the best, cheapest option. I have been cooking Indian food for decades. First vegetarian and then I added meat/poultry or fish based curries to my repertoire. My favorites include this recipe that I am sharing today. It is relatively simple curry and despite all the spices, there isn’t that much fancy cooking involved. A week ago I made it for a friend who was visiting from out of state and she loved it, practically polished her plate! I served it with a simple salad of thinly sliced radishes and raw zucchini with a dressing made of EVOL and fresh Meyer lemon juice. Just a touch of kosher salt and some fresh pepper and I whisked that dressing until it was really thick. It made a good counterpoint to the spicy highly-flavored curry. You could use slices of European cucumber which I often do.
This is made with chicken pieces, my favorite being thighs; bone in. You could make it with any cut you like but if you go boneless I strongly suggest lowering the cooking time somewhat. Skin on or removed; your choice. I generally leave it on as it adds flavor and moistens the thigh but if you are dieting, it can be removed.
You can’t make this with “curry powder” – it just must have the correct spices. I do have trouble getting inexpensive spices due to cross contamination and even just simply labels that say wheat added. It is incredibly annoying to buy coriander and get home and notice that it says wheat added to it. This happened to me last week; bought it at Giant grocery store in the Hispanic section; Badia label; be very careful if you buy that brand. I recommend McCormick single spices or Simply Organic (found at Wegmans); pricy but generally high quality and safe for celiac sufferers who love cooking spicy food!
My recipe is out of an old cookbook by Charmine Solomon; “Indian Cooking for Pleasure”, published in 1978. I looked for a new copy on Amazon and it would cost a minimum of $82! I think I paid $10 or $15 for it new back then. Crazy price now; but it is considered the gold standard that all other Indian cookbooks are measured against so clean copies seem to be much sought after. Maybe it will be reissued… I could use a new copy; mine is a bit of a mess from 30 years of hard usage but then, I would lose all my handwritten notes so, nope on that! I did alter it slightly as I made it for 4 servings rather than six and I think my version is not quite as spicy as hers. If you want super spicy add a fourth more of each spice. This recipe is native to the province of Uttar Pradesh.
Notes: I used canned tomatoes for this recipe but, in the summer I always use fresh tomatoes when available. Plum tomatoes work well if ripe summer ones are not around and you want fresh.
Chicken Dopiaza (serves 4)
4 good sized chicken thighs
3 large onions
2 medium or one large medium spicy fresh pepper like a poblano; not a hot one though!
2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. mild olive oil
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
¾ of a can of chopped tomatoes or 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
½ cup water
1 ½ tsp. sea salt
Directions: Sauté half the onions in a large frying pan which you heated and added the olive oil to it. Keep stirring them. You want a mostly caramelized end result. May take 15-18 minutes. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon so you leave behind some of the oil and set aside for adding back near the end of this process.
While the onions are caramelizing…to your blender add the rest of the (raw) onions, the chopped hot pepper, the fresh garlic, fresh ginger and about ¼ cup water. Blend to a thick puree; if you need a bit more water to make that happen okay but don’t add a lot. Pour that into the hot pan that you just removed the caramelized onions and add all the spices. Stir as it cooks…let it darken and the oil will show a touch around the edges. Add the tomatoes, stir and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them with the puree. Add water and salt. Cover and cook about 35 minutes until chicken is tender. Add the onions back in the last 4-5 minutes. Cook maybe 5 more minutes. Serve with rice or Indian bread like parathas. I haven’t made any gf parathas yet. Soon! This goes well with a cucumber salad or some steamed snap peas as I show in my photograph of my supper before I dived in! Enjoy!