Curry is like chili. There are so many variations, that it can be difficult to master. In fact, one could argue that curry is even more difficult due to the sheer number of variations – from the “traditional” Indian curry, to the coconut-infused Thai curries, to Chicken Tikka Masala, England’s most popular dish. And of course, within those broad categories are many, many styles and techniques.
I had trouble with chili for a while, but I eventually came across a recipe that I really like. It’s not traditional in any way, but it’s the recipe I turn to when I’m looking for a hearty bowl of spicy comfort.
Curry has consistently eluded me, though. I’ve come close several times – Cooks’ Illustrated recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala is excellent, albeit a bit of work.
This recipe was definitely a winner, though. Perfect? Not quite yet. But like my go-to chili recipe, it hit all the right notes. This recipe was the inspiration, but I made a lot of changes. For example, I toast the chickpeas along with the spices first, to help develop their flavor more. I also add whole garlic, and expand the spice palette. I apologize if this recipe sounds like an advertisement for Penzey’s – it is my favorite place for purchasing spices, and their curry mixes are top notch. If you follow the links, you can see what each blend contains. Enjoy!
6-10 small white new potatoes, quartered
4 cups unsalted chicken stock (I use one 32oz container of Kitchen Basics)
1 15 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add chickpeas, curry powder and tandoori seasoning. Stir to coat, then let the chickpeas and spices toast in the oil. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and to make sure all the spice and all the chickpeas get a nice crisp to them. (This develops the flavors of both the chickpeas and the spices. In fact, if you can use some whole spices for this step, it may be even better.) When they look about ready, add the onion, garlic and salt, and stir to coat. Cook until onions are slightly softened.
2. In a large pot, add the chicken stock, potatoes and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer, and add the spices, as well as the chickpea mixture when it’s done.
3. Simmer vigorously for at least 30 minutes – but 45 minutes to an hour would be better. The potatoes should be soft, and the cooking liquid should have reduced so it’s a bit thicker. Turn down the heat if the liquid is reducing too quickly.
4. Season with salt and/or pepper to taste. Serve with basmati rice.