My family is traveling this week, and I’ve asked Kimi Harris of The Nourishing Gourmet to step in and take my place while my husband and I take our little boy camping at the Grand Canyon. Her book Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Occasions is one of my favorites, and I know you’ll love the chicken curry recipe she shares with you today. — Jenny
Rich in coconut cream and spices, this chicken curry is one of my most favorite recipes. With fresh ginger and garlic, curry powder, garam masala, tart apples, and fresh tomatoes, its secret lies in the layering of flavor. And yet, it’s a simple enough recipe to make every week.
When I first created this recipe through trial and error years ago, one of the most important inspirations I had was using garam masala as well as the more typical curry powder. It changed everything about my curries.
Garam masala has a completely different spice profile with the use of more warming spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and peppercorns. I find that children especially love garam masala and in certain recipes I use it all by itself with wonderful results.
Granted, traditionally curries were not made from premixed spices. A friend who lived in India for years tells me of the daily curries made for their family by a local cook, who carefully ground every spice with a mortar and pestle. This method allows for abundant flavor, and I recommend it to any serious curry lover. Jenny has an excellent and very doable example of this with her Curried Lentil Soup recipe.
When you don’t have the time or patience for starting with whole spices, I love combining the two premixed spice mixtures, curry powder and garam masala, for a richer, deeper flavor, without all of the work of starting from scratch.
Making Spice Mixes at Home (and where to get your spices)
It’s important to realize that curry powders and garam masala mixes vary a lot. For this recipe, I’ve used a wide variety of curry powders and garam masala brands, and it has always turned out lovely. I’ve used Mountain Rose Herbs’ curry powder, organic curry powder from a local store, muchi curry powder from Frontier (which is really, really hot), and others. Experiment with different brands to see what you like best. If you like a spicier curry powder, use a muchi curry powder, or one that is labeled “hot.” If you prefer more mild curries, use a typical curry powder.
While this recipe only requires a tablespoon of homemade garam masala, you’ll have plenty leftover to use for dishes like this lovely Lentil Soup, this Lentil Curry, and this Creamy Curried Tomato Soup.
|Garam Masala Chicken Curry|| |
- 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated, or pre-ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (available here)
- 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced or put through a garlic press
- 1 tablespoon fresh finely grated ginger
- 1½ tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala (see above)
- 2 Roma tomatoes, stemmed and chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 1½ cups chicken broth
- Unrefined sea salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 14-ounce can of unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk (available here)
- 1 pound of raw chicken thighs or breasts chopped into bite sized pieces (find pastured chicken here), or two heaping cups of (leftover roasted chicken, torn into shreds.
- Begin first by mixing together the ingredients for the Garam Masala, reserving one tablespoon for the curry, and saving the rest in an airtight container stored in a cool, dark cupboard for up to 18 months.
- In a large saucepan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. I add one piece of onion to the heating oil, and when it starts to sizzle, I know it’s ready. Add the finely chopped red onion and apple. Sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, and cook, stirring every little while to prevent browning or burning, for 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic, and stir, cooking for about 1 more minute, or until the tomatoes start losing their shape, and melting into the onions.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, garam masala, and curry powder. Add just enough water to create a slurry, about 2 tablespoons or so. The water helps protect the sensitive spices from burning when you add them to the pan. Add the spice mixture to the pan once the tomatoes are done, stir constantly for 30 seconds, or until you start smelling the spices. Don’t overcook or the spices will become bitter. Add the broth and coconut milk, salt generously (unless you are using pre-salted broth) and bring to a low simmer. If you are using sweetener, also add at this point. The only time I personally add sweetener is when I use a hot curry powder, and I find that it balances the spice enough that my children will still eat it. Simmer with the lid off for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chicken. If using raw chicken pieces cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through. If using chicken shreds, reheat in sauce until heated through.
- Serve with chopped cilantro, and, if desired, an unsweetened yogurt. Serve over rice of choice (I recommend basmati), or with homemade flat bread.