Monday, May 3, 2010

One Slip (Chicken & Chickpea Curry)

I mention “victories and defeats” in the Man Who Cooks intro. I should have probably used a weaker word than “defeat,” since when something starts to go awry, I need to be able to call an audible.

I was planning to do a “cobble together stuff from around the pantry” sort of entry. I’d had a curry jones for a little while, and I thought tonight I’d get my fix.

This is a curry I put together with some staples in my cupboard. Your staples may differ – but it’s my cupboard, dammit! Anyway…the ingredients are nothing fancy.

  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast or thigh, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tsp. olive oil.
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 3 c. or so chicken broth
  • 1+ tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained – or 2-3 med ones, chopped
  • 1/4 c. well-chopped parsley
  • garlic, ginger, salt, pepper depending on your seasoning desires
  • cooked rice

Things started off innocuously enough. Cut everything up. Toss the chicken in the flour until coated. Heat the oil over medium-low heat. Easy.

Add the onions. I like to cook onions slowly. Cooking them too fast makes them bitter. I like to use lower heat and let the sugars start to caramelize (which is  what happens when onions start to turn golden). Better flavor. So, sauté that onion until it just starts to brown in a few places (usually 7-8 minutes).

Add the curry powder. 1 tbsp. gives you a medium-level curry flavor.IMG_0728 I used about 1 2/3 or so. Stir this in with the onions and stir this up for a couple of minutes. If the curry really starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, throw in a splash of white wine that you  have in your glass on the counter to deglaze. All’s well. And then…it happened.

This is the inevitable result of spending time in the kitchen. You’ll have a recipe in your head, and you’re following along…you get a little bit distracted…and suddenly you’re faced with an “Oh, sh*t!” moment.

This was where I was supposed to tell you to add the chicken and cook it until it was just brown all over. Instead, yours truly brainlocked and threw in the chicken broth by mistake…

Suddenly, I’m faced with a pot of curry flavored broth with some onions floating around in it. Quick! Think! What can I do here? IMG_0729

First off, I grabbed the biggest bowl in reach. I poured the liquid off into that. I splashed a little more olive oil in the bottom of the pot, raised the heat to medium and then added the chicken. IMG_0731

Once the chicken was about halfway browned, I added a generous amount of ginger (jarred) and garlic (minced). Probably a tbsp. of the first and 5-6 cloves of the second.

I sautéed this for about 3 minutes, until the chicken was more or less browned, then I added the liquid. Stir well, and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any cooked flour. Bring almost to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and scrape the bottom of the pot.

While you’re in Simmersville, get your rice ready. Different types of rice take   different amounts of time, so you can judge this as well as you can. In our case, we use a rice steamer. Best $15 you can spend. If you don’t have one, go get one. I’ll wait…IMG_0733

…I set ours up, went to the pantry, and [insert spit-take here] I realized to my horror that we were out of rice. White? None. Basmati? Nope. Not even some risotto rice. Thankfully, the SPinC had run the Flying Pig Marathon relay over the weekend (YEAH, SWEETIE!) and in her “gift bag,” she’d been given a little thing of brown rice. It ended up as our rice for the evening. 

Anytime I make rice for something Indian-ish, I always stir in about 1/2 tsp. of cardamom and 1/2 tsp. salt to the water. Gives it a nice flavor. (A container of cardamom will last you just this side of forever.)

IMG_0734After the 45 minutes are done, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and parsley. Stir it in. Raise the heat slightly and bring it back to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Fluff up the rice, put it in bowls. Ladle this yummy stuff over it. Garnish with a few chives. Chow down.





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