Day 202: Vij’s Chicken Curry

I thought I had my simple curry recipe down just as pat as anything (although strangely enough it appears I haven’t made it yet this year) – turns out I don’t. This one is even better, and doesn’t even call for coconut milk, which is crazy high in saturated fat. 

B has been trying to get me to make the chicken curry from Vij’s (one of Vancouver’s best restaurants – Indian fusion on south Granville) for weeks – he even found it online at North American Patriot (who in turn got it from the Globe and Mail) and printed off a copy for me, which has since then been sitting on my desk and now has random telephone numbers and notes scribbled around and in between the text. Every time I see him he gets so excited at the prospect of my trying it, that I don’t want to disappoint him yet again when I see him on Tuesday.

Also, we got in late last night and haven’t brought ourselves to go pick up any groceries, but I did have skinless chicken thighs in the freezer and that container of sour cream I bought before we left with the intention of making this. All that was missing was the fresh tomatoes, but some drained canned diced tomatoes stood in perfectly.

Here is the recipe – I have not messed with it. I will say though that I used about half as much oil and light sour cream instead of the regular stuff – a bit of a gamble, since lower-fat dairy products tend to separate with cooking, but it held together perfectly.

And when I went out to the garden to pluck some cilantro I found it had gone to seed in our absence, and when I reached in to yank out a weed growing up through the middle I extracted the whole lot of cilantro, so I salvaged maybe a tablespoon, far less than the requested half cup, and dispensed a bit of it over each bowl. It was still fantastic.

The 2 cups of water seemed like a lot, but wasn’t; I simmered it down a bit while the thighs cooled, since we were too hungry to let it sit for a half hour. I suspect it will improve in flavour overnight – next time I’ll treat it like chili and make it one day for the next, since it needs to cool down enough to shred the meat off the bones anyway. Not only will a little time in the fridge improve the flavours – I’m sure it would thicken the sauce as well, so that when you reheat it it’s a perfect consistency. Can’t wait for lunch tomorrow.

Vij Family’s Chicken Curry

What you need:

½ cup canola oil
2 cups finely chopped onions (2 large)
3-inch stick of cinnamon
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 pounds chicken thighs, bone in
1 cup sour cream, stirred
2 cups water
½ cup chopped cilantro (including stems)

What you do:

In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat for one minute. Add onions and cinnamon, and sauté for five to eight minutes, until onions are golden. Add garlic and sauté for four more minutes. Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne. Cook this masala for five minutes, until the oil separates.

Remove and discard skin from the chicken thighs. Wash thighs and add to the masala. Stir well. Cook chicken thighs for 10 minutes, until the chicken looks cooked on the outside. Add sour cream and water and stir well. Increase the heat to medium-high. When curry starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring two or three times, until chicken is completely cooked. Poke the thighs with a knife. If the meat is still pink, cook for five more minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Cool curry for at least half an hour.

Transfer cooked chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves, peel chicken meat off the bones. Discard bones and stir chicken back into the curry. Just before serving, heat curry on medium heat until it starts to boil lightly. Stir in cilantro.

Divide curry evenly among six bowls. Serves 6.



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10 comments on “Day 202: Vij’s Chicken Curry

  1. pauline
    July 21, 2008 at 9:51 am

    I loveeeeee curry. Sounds good and looks good too. I have tons of Cilantro what am I going to do with it all. I love it but how much can you use. Its always like this I see the recipes for it a lot in the winter and have to go and buy it looking awful in the grocery store.

  2. Fiona
    July 21, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    That sounds fab. Do you think it a vegetarian version would work, also? Lentils, maybe? I love curry.

  3. JulieVR
    July 21, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I was thinking the same thing. Lentils and squash, maybe? or lentils and potatoes and spinach… anything, really.

  4. Fiona
    July 22, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Well, I’m going to have to try lentils and potato and spinach…possibly right this second.

    I’m really digging your blog, by the way. ‘Tis awesome.

  5. a curry devotee
    August 3, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Made this for dinner tonight, with the intention of having leftovers for post-hiking tomorrow. Best curry recipe ever – great depth of flavours without hours of simmering and an expedition to an Indian grocery.

    I found the sauce/chicken ration a bit sauce heavy, but solved it by scooping some of the sauce out and simmering/steaming some cauliflower in it. Which had the added bonus of getting some cruciferous veg into me, instead of just chicken and rice! (and yummy curry sauce…)

    Next time if I have too much sauce I’ll likely just dump some additional veg in with the chicken when it reheats, instead of using another pot. Yes, I’m lazy that way…

  6. Heather
    August 4, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I just made this for supper, and it was excellent. I cheated a bit and got boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and cut them in small pieces. I added them when it says to add the whole chicken thighs, and I just simmered the whole thing uncovered to reduce it. I served it over brown basmati, and the nutty flavour of the rice was a great complement to the curry. I agree with the curry devotee that there’s a ton of sauce here, but too much is better than too little, and you could always add cauliflower, broccoli or green beans to make it go even further.

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