There’s a definite intimidation factor when approaching Indian food. It’s exotic, new, and requires a blend of spices uncommon to the average pantry. Indian food made a timid arrival to American cuisine in the late seventies and early eighties, but has since made a profound impact. Now, you can’t go to any major city without running into dozens of Indian restaurants. Its bold, rich flavors have bloomed across our culinary landscape. Many people enjoy a good curry now and again. But few have attempted to make one at home. Here’s a recipe for a delicious and rich-tasting south Indian curry. A blend of spices gives it a warming quality while curry leaves and coconut cream give it its signature flavor. Serve with naan bread or basmati rice and enjoy!

Ingredients

About 1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt

1 teaspoon garam masala plus 1 more

1 teaspoon sea salt plus 1 more

1 large red onion (processed to paste)

3 cloves garlic (minced)

1 inch fresh ginger (grated)

Cilantro stems (finely choppped) (about 1/4 cup)

Cilantro leaves (for garnish)

2 teaspoons finely chopped serrano or jalapeno peppers (about one large jalapeno or two to three serranos)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 cloves

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

4-5 curry leaves (can be found in Indian market; may be omitted)

2 cups water

1 teaspoon white sugar

1/4 cup coconut cream, plus 1/4 more

Method

Begin by trimming excess fat from chicken thighs. Cut chicken into equal size chunks, about 1-2 inches wide. Then, in a nonreactive mixing bowl, add one tablespoon yogurt, one teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon garam masala. Fold in chicken pieces and mix well with hands. Let marinate for at least two hours. Peel and cut onion into medium sized chunks, then pulse in a food processor until paste-like consistency is formed. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Mince garlic, peel and grate ginger, chop chilies, and mince cilantro stems. Combine ingredients and place in small bowl. Combine garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, pepper powder, and cayenne powder in a small bowl and mix well. Reserve. Heat two to three tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add cumin seeds and cloves and toast for thirty seconds. Toss in curry leaves and let sputter, covering pot with lid. Then add onions and increase to medium-high heat, frying until deeply caramelized. About 10-15 minutes. Once onions have developed a dark brown color, reduce heat to medium and add the ginger-garlic-chili-cilantro stems mixture. Fry for thirty seconds before adding tomato paste. Then increase to medium-high heat and fry until paste has browned. Should be dark rusty color. About 5-10 minutes. Once paste is cooked, fold in chicken and begin tossing. Season with half of the dry spice mixture, and toss until well coated. Then add two cups of water and bring to boil. Once water is boiling, add remaining spice mixture, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon white sugar, and reduce to low heat. Add 1/4 cup coconut cream, stir and cover. Then let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes or until chicken is tender. During the final five minutes, uncover pot and add remaining 1/4 cup coconut cream and cilantro. Then increase temperature and allow curry to thicken and reduce uncovered. Serve with extra cilantro on top and Enjoy!

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