Talking chicken curry

Mallika Basu - Talking chicken curry

Posted 10th April 2008

The cold was getting better. And then, I lost my voice.

Now, this is a tragedy of epic proportions. There is only one thing I do better than Indian cooking.


I sat at my desk, in silence. Simmering gently. With only grunts and sign language to communicate. One grunt, yes. Two grunts, no. Two fingers, leave me in peace.

Clients and colleagues heaped sympathy on me. The husband rushed to the pub to celebrate. I stared at 12 bullet points in despair. Only a simple Indian meal would now lift my spirits off the ditch outside the office.

It had to be chicken curry and rice. Even on a vocally agreeable day, chicken curry is pure genius in a large pot. It takes about 45 minutes to make, even quicker in my pressure cooker. I can make a massive amount of it with little extra effort. And any extras can be frozen for use during a later meal.

Ticks all my boxes for busy bee Indian cooking.

This wonderful, basic chicken curry recipe is from the Basu Kolkata kitchen and can be tweaked for variety with the addition of whole garam masala in the hot oil or some plain yogurt with the tomatoes.

There’s only one way to voice my satisfaction at the end of this meal. Grunt.

Feeds 2 (two times):

8 chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 750 gms)

3 medium tomatoes

2 large onions

4 fat cloves garlic

1 inch ginger

1 tsp chilli powder

Half tsp turmeric powder

1.5 tsp cumin powder

1.5 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

Handful of fresh coriander

2 tbsp sunflower oil

Salt to taste

Skin the chicken, roughly chop the onions and tomatoes, and finely dice the ginger and garlic. Heat a large, non-stick pan with the oil over a high flame. You could also use a pressure cooker.

When the oil is sizzling hot, add in the onions and fry for five minutes until pale gold and soft. Then throw in your ginger and garlic and keep frying for another five minutes until the whole lot is a darker shade of gold. If at any point the masalas start sticking to the bottom of the pan, just add a little water and scrape off.

Now mix in all the powders except garam masala, and the tomatoes. Keep frying this on a high heat for another five minutes until the tomatoes disintegrate and the pungent smell of the spices calms down to a softer fragrance.

Then, throw in your chicken, and stir like a maniac until it is white and coated with the masalas all over. Next, add just about enough hot water to submerge the chicken pieces, cover and cook on a high flame for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Just make sure you stir the chicken every five minutes or so.

If you use a pressure cooker, as I did, this takes about 6-7 minutes after the first whistle. But you won’t get a deep, red colour like the chicken curry in my new video.

Finally, stir in the garam masala, salt and a handful of fresh coriander. Serve with plain, steamed Basmati and a spicy pickle of your choice.

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