Curry in a Hurry


    Indian is something I crave. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I ate it; but I have been in love ever since.  It could have been after purchasing my first Indian cookbook Flavors of India by Madhur Jaffrey. I have had this book for a very long time.  Just checking the inside cover tells me my book was published in 1995 and is a first edition.  It was probably purchased shortly after our wedding.  Somehow, someway, I have Indian in my blood.  I love the aromatic scents and the unique combination of spices.  I am crazy for curries.  There are many reddish dots from splashing coconut milk mixed with a distinctive concoction of spices on page 115 of the Flavors of India cookbook I own. This demonstrates our love of prawn curry.  Spicy but not overly so, it contains a depth of flavors. This is from the unique and wonderful array of curry ingredients; bright paprika, orange turmeric, pulped garlic, fresh ginger, coriander and cumin seeds round out its list of spices.  I have made this curry many times. It takes some time, prep work, and the longer it sits the favors heighten and become more complex.  Like I said I love it. However, on especially busy days I am looking for something a little quicker while still getting my Indian fix.
     Last year I found a recipe for Easy Chicken Biryani in Ladies Home Journal and I fall back to it whenever I am craving Indian and have little time to cook.  It is extremely easy to make as it is a one pot meal.  All of these ingredients could be found in our small town between two different grocery stores.  With the exception of  the Biryani curry paste, which was in stock last time!  Ugh!  I substituted vindaloo which is a little spicier. My point is if I can find these in my little town then these ingredients  are probably available in most grocery stores.  On the slim chance that I am wrong about this, well there is always the internet, just plan ahead and keep some of the harder to find ingredients on hand.  I just made this and adapted a few things (barely) from the original recipe that is linked above.

Curry in a Hurry print


            1 1/2 cups basmati rice (I had jasmine and it worked fine)
            2 tablespoons unsalted butter
            2 medium onions, sliced root to tip one red and one white 
            2 bay leaves 
            1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 
            1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
            3/4 teaspoon turmeric
            3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
            4 (about 1-3/4 lbs) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces 
            3-4 tablespoons vindaloo curry paste, such as Patak’s brand or 4-5 tablespoons mild                           
              curry paste (we like it HOT)  
            1/2 cup raisins or currants (I’ve used both. Currants are better in my humble opinion)                 
            3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
            1-12 oz bag frozen peas, thawed 
            1/2 cup chopped cilantro
            1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Cook it up

  • Soak rice in warm water for 10 min, then rinse in cold water until the water runs clear; drain well in a fine sieve.

  • Heat butter in a 4-to 5-qt casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion and bay leaf; cook until soft, about 10 min. 

  • Stir in the cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, chicken and curry paste and cook until aromatic, about 2 min.

  •  Stir in rice, currents and broth. 

  • Cover, increase heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done, 15 to 18 min. 

  • Uncover and cook until liquid is gone, about 5 min. Turn off heat, replace lid and let stand for 10 min.
  • Gently stir in the peas and half the cilantro. Top with the rest of the cilantro and almonds.

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