Rich flavours in chicken curry

The ingredients for Chicken Curry with Cashew.

FESTIVE dining is a much-anticipated affair so it is understandable why those cooking for the family go to great lengths to make meals hearty and appetising.

And we are not far from welcoming yet another festive celebration.

Waking up to the aroma of chicken curry and crispy ghee thosai as they come off the cast iron griddle or steaming hot idli from the steamer is simply the best way to start an auspicious morning.Thosai with chicken curry and chutney for breakfast followed by sumptuous chicken or mutton briyani for lunch, are among the spice-laden meals many look forward to on Deepavali.

Let’s not forget mutton or chicken peratal or varuvel-style, as well as traditional Indian snacks like murukku, achimurukku, omapudi, athirasam and ghee balls which are certainly reminiscent of the Festival of Lights.

With so much action going on in the kitchen, it is necessary for meal preps to be done ahead of time so that dishes are ready when families come together and bond over good home-cooked meals.

Chicken curry, coconut chutney and thosai were dishes my siblings and I looked forward to on Deepavali morning while growing up, even though we did not celebrate the festival.

We figured that mum made the effort to prepare something extra for breakfast because it was a special occasion for our Hindu friends and she had time as she did not have to work on a public holiday.

Chicken curry is relatively easy to prepare and is one of the first curries I learnt to cook.

There are no hard and fast rules for cooking chicken curry as there are many different recipes on the Internet or even in one’s family circle.

While some use santan (coconut milk), others prefer using evaporated milk and there are those who add lots of tomatoes in their curry. There are even recipes that call for cashew nuts or almonds as thickening agents, besides recipes with copious use of mint and coriander.

The chicken curry recipe today presents a thicker consistency and is somewhat rich due to the inclusion of cashew nuts and santan.

The consistency of the curry can be adjusted by just adding an extra cup of water or second press of the santan if you prefer your curry to be slightly watery.

Chicken Curry with CashewMarinade for chicken1.2kg chicken

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

Ingredients for curry3 potatoes

2 tomatoes

50g cashew

2 big onions

8 shallots

30g ginger

50g garlic

2 pandan leaves

6 coriander sprigs

80g meat curry powder

1 tbsp chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp garam masala (optional)

1 cup thick santan

1 cup cooking oil

1 tsp salt

Spices3 cinnamon sticks

5 cloves

5 cardamom

2 star anise

1 tsp jintan manis

4 cups waterMethodChop the chicken into desired pieces, season with salt and turmeric and leave to marinate for about half an hour.

Slice one large onion, shallots, ginger and garlic. Place all four ingredients into a blender, add some oil and blend into a smooth paste.

Chop the cashew nuts, add water and blend into a paste. Set this aside.Slice the remaining onion, dice the tomatoes and keep aside.

Cut the potatoes into cubes and soak them in water.

Pour remaining cooking oil into the pot and add cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, star anise, jintan manis and stir until aromatic.

Throw in curry leaves and pandan to the oil and stir until the

pandan wilts.

Now add the sliced onions and let them sweat. Stir until they become translucent and a touch caramelised.

Remove pandan and discard.

Then add onion, ginger and garlic paste and cook until the oil surfaces.Add diced tomatoes, stir until they soften before adding curry powder, chilli powder and garam masala to the mix.

Add a cup of water to prevent the curry mix from burning. Let it cook until the oil separates, then add about three cups of water to the pot.

Season with 1 tsp salt.

Next, gently include marinated chicken to the pot and stir before adding potatoes.

Let the curry simmer on low fire for 20 minutes before adding coconut milk and cashew nut paste. Stir to combine.

The curry will thicken slightly so keep an eye and keep stirring to prevent it from burning.

Finally, add chopped coriander leaves to the curry.

The curry can be served slightly thick or if you like it thinner, include more water or thin santan.

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