Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicken Curry with Lime Pickle

Are you absolutely craving exotic flavours about now? Man, I am. Anything other than bread, thyme, sausage, potato and turkey. The spicier, the tangier, the better. 
My husband and I went out to an Indian place last week and liked it so much we went back two nights later with our friend, Erin
We are completely in the dark when it comes to all foods Indian. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter; there are so many complexities and facets to that country's fabulous cuisine. 
The highlight of our two visits to the restaurant was a dish that used lime pickle. In our ignorance we had never heard of it, but learned that it is a common condiment on Indian tables. The taste is utterly unusual: First it is sour, then salty, finishing off with a distinct lime bitterness. Lovely.
Lime Pickle is found jarred in every major grocery store here in England, quite possibly in America, too. If not, any Indian grocery store would certainly stock it. If you are inspired, there are hundreds of Lime Pickle recipes on the internet.
It is the lime pickle that makes this simple curry sing.

2 hefty soup spoons plain yogurt
3 hefty soup spoons lime pickle
Juice of 1 lime

2 pounds chicken breast chunks

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 teaspoons Garam Masala (or more is desired)
1 teaspoon curry powder (hot or sweet)
1 tin plain, crushed or chopped tomatoes, with juice
Crushed red pepper flakes, if desired

1) Mix the yogurt, lime pickle and lime juice together in a bowl and toss in chicken chunks. Stir to coat all the chicken with the marinade, cover and set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but up to 2 hours.

2) Make the curry sauce (can be done a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator): Saute the garlic and ginger in vegetable oil until soft. Add in the Garam Masala and curry powders- saute a few moments more. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, reduce the heat and allow to gently simmer for 10 minutes- crushing the tomatoes with the back of a fork. Hold off on adding any salt or red pepper flakes until after you have added and cooked the marinating chicken.

3) When ready to eat: Steam some basmati rice. While that is cooking, grab a wok and pour in a bit of vegetable oil. Add in the marinating chicken and all of the marinade. Saute at a high temperature for 3-5 minutes, keeping the chicken in constant motion. Now, add in the tomato curry sauce. Stir well, cover and reduce heat. Simmer gently for roughly 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Taste to see if you like the heat and/or salt-- if not, add more of either now.

Serve with hot, steamed Basmati rice, naan bread and 'Almost Palak Paneer'. Serves 4

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