Oven-Baked Chicken Curry

Yes, I called it a curry and refuse to call it anything else. A generic mix of spices for the general region of the Indian subcontinent all cooked together genericly goes by the name of curry in the western world. So when I cook something that satisfies that definition, in my western kitchen, I will call it a curry. [Defiant]. Besides, my blog, my rant. So there.

My love affair with the chicken began some 7 years ago. Before that I absolutely refused to eat it. Don’t ask me why.I have no idea. The thing with ingredients that make an entry into your life after your food habits have formed is,it takes quite a lot of thinking to decide how it will be cooked. It doesn’t come naturally to me. See, I look at beet greens, which I have never cooked with before and red amaranth comes to me. I look at zucchini and ridgegourd comes to mind. I look at a chicken and all I see is a mass of pink muscle. I have to go through my recipe book to decide which way I want to prepare it. This frustration with chicken is largely due to the fact that I have never really been successful in making a simple chicken curry. [ shutting my ears among the echoes of *gasp*, *and you are a food blogger?* ]

It’s true. Dinner with friends, potlucks and there it is. The ubiquitous ‘simple’ chicken curry,right there, mocking me. Each time, I go to the creator of this bane of my culinary existance and I try to stir the conversation ever so diplomatically to how it is made. I start with complimenting the dish and then finish with “you know there is something so very different from all the normal chicken curries in this. Koi special ingredient ?” Somewhere in between those two praticed lines, I get my answer.

Arre, nothing yaar! Hot oil, jeera, khadha masala, pyaz,tamatar, haldi, mirchi, dhaniya-jeera, garam masala, chicken, namak. Fir pani daala, aur 2 seethi nikali. Bas..“.

I am not going to bother translating that because it doesn’t help. Do you hear me?? IT DOESN’T HELP! I put all sorts of masala in the pressure-cooker with the chicken and it still tastes like something the local Indian restaurant serves at the buffet. A pseudo-Indian americanised curry that even non-indians have trouble eating. At this point, I am doing the mental version of pulling my hair out. But the lady in question is not done yet because the clincher comes in.

Sabke Haath ka bhi farak hota hai. That’s why it tastes different”.

I will translate this. This essentially means “My hands turn simple, everyday ingredients into magic. You, on the other hand[no pun intended] are a nincompoop!”. Aaaaargh!!

So, to take the smirk off her face,I go home and try it out. Nothing. Nada. Bland, insipid mess. It is the chicken, I tell you. These chicken have too much water in them. Besides,there is no smirk, is there? She just wants to get away from this non-chicken curry-making cook as far as possible. “Doesn’t know how to make chicken curry? Don’t know what kind of food the kids are being raised on? Bechare

As I burn in this hell of chicken-curry-failures, once in a while, something works. Only it is not add-some-of-this-some-of-that-and-pressure-cook-to-2-whistles kind of thing, it is somewhere in between. I chalk it all up to this game God plays so that I don’t give up completely on my simple-chicken-curry hope.Bhagwan, how you test me? Bachche ko rulaoege kya?”.

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Oven Baked Chicken Curry

This is the curry I make for the weekday dinner guests. It is a no mess, no fuss kind of thing, 10 minutes of prep and cooks in the oven keeping the stove top free.

Make a paste using a blender or mortar-pestle the following

*3 green chillies/Thai peppers
*4 cloves Garlic
*1 inch piece Ginger

Mix together to make a marinade,

*1 cup dahi/curd/yogurt
*1 tsp Red Chilli Powder or 1/2 tsp red Chilli Flakes
*1 tsp Black Pepper Powder
*the paste made above
*1 tsp Garam Masala
* 1/4 tsp Saunf/Fennel seeds Powder
* 1/8 tsp Star Anise powder (Available in Korean Stores)
*Salt to taste

Add to the marinade

1 lb bone-in chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size cubes

Mix well.Set aside for as long as you can. I normally do this in the morning and cook it for dinner. When ready to cook,add

1/2 Red Onion. sliced
3 tbsp peanut oil

to the chicken mix.Pour everything in a baking dish. Into the oven it goes at 350 deg. Put it, Shut it, forget it for the next 40 minutes. Finish with a tadka/chaunk.

Heat

1 tsp Ghee

Add

1 Badi Elaichi/Black Cardamom
3 cloves
1″ Cinnamon

Pour over the chicken, sprinkle some coriander leaves/cilantro and serve. Goes well with Jeera Rice and Crispy Papad on the side.

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Completely irrelevant to the recipe : I cannot help but mention the carnage at Virginia Tech.It was appalling, what happened. It has been even more appalling, watching the media coverage. Monday evening, a whole lot of emphasis on the killer being Asian. Tuesday evening, a big attempt to blame the VT administration for not seeing into the future and predicting this might happen. Wednesday, repeated playings of the killers videos. It’s been amazing to see virginians stand strongly by their alma-matar. Rare is the person who spoke against the university on camera or off. Several people cancelled interviews with the media in protest against the emphasis on the killer and not on the killed. Thursday evening saw a marked difference in media coverage with the focus more on those killed, the loss and grief of their near and dear ones. The hokie spirit is everywhere I go, especially today being decreed a National Day of Mourning in memory of those killed.

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10 thoughts on “Oven-Baked Chicken Curry

  1. Very thought-provoking Vee…on several accounts. I’ll start with the chicken. I’m actually impressed with this recipe. I read it over. I imagined how it tastes. I examined the spicing and method and would classify it as….hmmm….what little I know I am thinking! Others will disagree and correct me. That’s a good thing!:-)….American baked chicken….Kashmiri…Punjabi…excellent fusion work Vee! I like the heavy hand with the black pepper- it reminds me of a lot of chicken I ate growing up spiced with only that and salt! I like the use of both star anise and saunf…that complicates the anisol flavour, and I think Kashmiris and Awadhis will approve. I have a strong desire to make a gravy with the browned (?) sauce that remains and have it with mashed potatoes- old instincts are hard to break! πŸ™‚ A lot of people will say “great recipe, I’ll be sure to try it sometime…But I actually will. And I’ll get back to you on it.
    As to part two… I missed everything on this crime because I’m not a TV-watcher. Have you ever heard the phrase: Divide and conquer…? We’re treading in the waters of conspiracy theory here… But I too, don’t swallow all of subtle American propoganda spewed out in the media with absolute trust like an open-mouthed nestling. People in America are afraid of each other. It’s changed so much from when I was a youngin’ at the tail-end of the hippie years. It’s almost like the media enjoys defining (and therefore separating) and pitting one group against the other… like the country becomes the media’s colosseum- so different from the spirit of past years when there was a greater sense of unity and celebration of diversity. That’s not good news I guess.

  2. The VaTech thing keeps playing over and over in my mind. I keep wondering whether I need to teach my daughter how to play dead. I couldn’t figure out what the killer’s nationality and his resident status had to do with it either. The guy was sick, very sick. In a way, it helps to see some of his videos and thoughts. It emphasizes how important it is to be in your children’s lives all the time. Middle school is tough; high school is even more difficult. And when the child goes away to college, s/he is literally alone. Children are growing up alone. Technology is their parent: TV, video games, the Internet. They get cars at the age of 16. How many parents know where their children hang-out? Or what their children are up to? That needs to change. That came through loud and clear in the Columbine case and it’s ringing true here, too. It’s frightening to feel that our children are not safe.

    Didn’t know you were in Virginia.

    Your chicken recipe: it’s interesting because I have never done the tadka last. I would be very tempted to add nigella seeds with the saunf. I like the way these two spices come together. I’ll probably try this out on a weekday. I would probably use chicken breasts instead of thighs – less fat.


  3. More than the tendency to compartmentalise, I am noticing this tendency to instigate. And that’s true in the new 24 hour Indian TV media,too. It used to be that media would work at pacifying, now the tone is more about stirring the anger and frustration that we feel in situations like this. I feel you, Manisha. How do you prepare your kids to protect themselves from something like this?

    Chicken Curry : Pel, obviously I didn’t think of fusion or a particular cuisine when I mixed the spices. I just put in spices that I thought would work. Black Pepper, IMHO, stands the oven temperature much better than Red chilli powder which is why I was so liberal with it. The sauce was actually thick enough and I didn’t even have to reduce it afterwards. [trying to imagine how the sauce would taste with a roux]
    Manisha, The tadka is what makes it feel more like a curry as opposed to just baked chicken. Thighs for curries is my personal preference. I save the breast for recipes like here and here. You will probably have to reduce the baking time, if you intend to use breasts. Nigella and Saunf go well together, but I am not a fan of yogurt and nigella .
    let me know how it turns out, y’all!

  4. Vee, I hear you, I have attemepted unsuccessfully to pry a few simple recipes from otherwise good people. The chicken you have there is simply irresistible. See what a little turn-off can do to your chicken recipe repertoire. Me too prefer thighs to breasts, I never ever buy breasts, for some reason the way I cook it, it ends up with a texture like rubber.

    Living in the WashingtonDC area like we do, the VT tragedy hits close to home. Completely agree with Manisha, we have to be involved in our kids lives no matter what age and be aware of their problems no matter how trivial. These days more of our opinions is formed by the talking heads on TV than us thinking for ourselves, which in itself a tragedy.

  5. The recipe seems a quick one Vee, perfect for a Weeday Dinner, but “mere haath se kya hoga Bhagwan hi jane “

    On the VT Murder I had a post on DesiMomz Club. Would love to hear your views.

  6. Hello,

    I came across your blog a few days back and liked what i saw… I made this recipe yesterday with jeera rice and the combo rocks!!! hubby and me just loved it… and the best part is its so very easy to make!!! I had a question… (i am not as experienced as you in cooking so please bear with all seemingly stupid questions… πŸ™‚ ) I followed your recipe down to the last letter… but I would have liked to have more gravy… so do you reckon I need to add more curd before putting it in the oven… or would you have put in some chicken stock???

    Excellent website and I enjoy reading your posts…

  7. Hi ! the chicken is in the oven : getting done , . My husband will pass the verdict so Ill be back with another post , see ya ……In the meantime the chicken sizzles in my oven and the whole house smells soo delicious…….

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