Temps are still in the high 90s (ouf, don't want to step out into that sweltering mess!) and I felt like making something homey and comforting. I don't know why, but usually cold foods don't exactly spring to mind when you think of "comfort food." Also, counterintuitively, spicy hot foods are actually perfect for hot weather. Something about forcing your body to cool itself instead of eating cold foods and making your body want to warm itself up. Not that I'm giving up ice cream on a hot summer day anytime soon, but there it is. Yet another reason to eat some yummy Indian food tonight.
Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Curry
(Serves 4 - or just serves 2 and makes for excellent leftovers)
For the chicken
4 large chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
2 tbsp oil
2 diced onions
3 diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp ginger (minced)
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tsp coriander-cumin powder
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala (I haven't yet arrived at the stage of making my own garam masala, but I'm planning to do it as soon as my current stock - given to me by my aunt L - runs out - so stay tuned!)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped coriander (optional)
For the marinade
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder (I'm not big on super spicy food, but I'm sure more chili powder would be appreciated by spice lovers)
2 tsp ginger (I used store-bought ginger paste since I didn't have any fresh ginger at home, but fresh ginger has more of a zing so maybe use a little less if doing that)
1 tsp garlic (ditto)
Salt to taste (but don't taste! salmonella! danger! maybe just salt later!)
Marinate the chicken with the marinade ingredients for at least an hour.
Heat the oil on medium heat, add the onions, and saute on low heat until they get nice and caramelized. This always takes a lot longer than you think it's going to, and it doesn't pay to up the heat because then you'll just end up with burnt onions, not that lovely sweet brown that is essential to a curry. Add in the cinnamon, coriander-cumin powder, and cloves, stir until coated in oils and onions.
I think actually the curry calls for 2 cinnamon sticks of the length you get in the US, but we had these enormous long ones from Sri Lanka so I just added one broken into two. Mm we have cinnamon and pepper from there and they are absolutely delicious. Did you know that cinnamon is actually named for Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (this article is a fascinating and quick read about the importance of Cinnamon to Sri Lanka and world exploration)? I'd definitely go back to get some more directly from the source!
Add the minced garlic and ginger. Increase the heat to medium and add the tomatoes. Stir and let them cook for a couple of minutes, then add the marinated chicken. Stir everything together. Add garam masala, stir, cook for a little bit until the chicken starts turning white.
Then add 2 cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the chicken is done and the sauce has reduced to a nice curry-like consistency (maybe reduce by 1/3), stirring occasionally. At the very end, add a dash of lemon juice to give it a nice acidity.
Garnish with coriander and serve with rice (or if you're a little more ambitious than I am, with chapatis - mm, fresh hot chapatis just make any meal better!).
And speaking of rice, I'll have to remember to make my friend S's Afghan Rice sometime soon. Mm mm. That's for another blog post though!