Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Getting Curried Away

Although the calendar may not say so, it seems to otherwise officially be fall here in New York. Sandals have been tucked away until next year and boots have started to grace the city streets in their place. At home, the heat has started to sputter through the radiator, letting me know that it will soon be time to pull out my slow-cooker and heat up my stove. But before I hit the fall and winter recipes full force, I decided to welcome the changing season with a warm and cozy stew that's as easy to make as it is cheap. 

This dish is an update of a classic Indian dish that a former roommate used to make for me when we were living in a very small apartment (and on a very small budget) downtown. The main ingredients were chicken thighs, tomato paste, butter and water, so as far as home cooked meals were concerned, it was a real winner in both the flavor and affordability categories. It was easy to make and fast to boot, two qualities this update also embraces. I've upped the taste factor even more with the addition of various aromatics, spices and fresh chopped cilantro. I added some extra color and veg with a full bunch of green kale, and some actual tomatoes instead of just the cheapee paste.

Chicken thighs are still the main ingredient thanks to their affordability and flavor. They're significantly cheaper than chicken breast and taste infinitely better, not to mention they're juicier and easier to cook (especially if you have a tendency to overcook chicken). I went boneless and skinless, but you could easily make this a heartier stew if you wanted to by adding bone-in chicken and letting it cook a bit longer in more liquid (like chicken stock, but water would do, too). I personally like bite-size pieces, perfect for serving over fluffy basmati rice (my current carby obsession) and a squeeze of fresh lime.

The rest of the ingredients are easily switched up with any of your faves, but what's important is that you not use a store bought curry. Mixing your own spices gives this dish a long-cooked and surprisingly fresh flavor that doesn't come from that old, stale curry tin that's probably hanging out in your cupboard (you know the one, we all have it). The kale however, could easily be replaced with spinach, swiss chard or mustard greens, not to mention left out altogether or replaced with the seasonal veggie of your choice. You could also adjust the spices as you see fit, increasing the heat to suit you or your family's preferences (I like mine medium), or adding a little smoke with more smoked paprika, or extra sweetness with a little more brown sugar. In any case, this dish is great for the cool whether that's just starting to stream in, and a great way to sneak a few veggies into kids. I'm already planning on throwing a few chickpeas into my next batch for added protein to help keep me warm!

Curried Chicken With Kale

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground fennel
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 lime
1 bunch kale (or your favorite green) ribs removed and chopped
chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter

1. Heat butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté over medium-low heat until slightly softened, about 7 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and fennel and cook another minute until fragrant.

2. Add remaining olive oil and chicken to the pan, season with salt and cook until just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on low.

3. Uncover and stir in the brown sugar and a the juice of half a lime. Add the greens in batches, stirring until they're fully combined. Simmer uncovered until just tender, then stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped cilantro. Serve over basmati rice and top with chopped cilantro and a lemon wedge. Enjoy!



Troy said...

such white rice!!!

Kathryn said...

Sounds delicious. I can't wait to try this!