Sunday, July 31, 2011

Green Chicken Curry

Ok, I admit it. I watch Food Network. A lot. Whenever I need to turn my brain off, it's great to stare at content-less food shows. I also enjoy watching food tv while eating and planning my next meal. Today I bring you a recipe from an old episode of the Next Food Network Star. What better way to turn off your brain than watch reality tv with shots of food porn mixed in? I bookmarked this recipe for Green Chicken Curry from my favorite winner of the Next Food Network Star, Aarti Sequeira, and finally got around to making it. I love Aarti's show! She is so lovely, and I really love learning about Indian food from her. She's had a recipe blog since before her Food Network stint. On it you can track her transition from food blogger to Food Network star and find food-related tips and stories.

This curry is unlike any I've seen before, and one of the best I've had. You know the mint-cilantro chutney that is served with Indian dishes? This chicken curry is essentially chicken simmered in that chutney (which is why it is bright green). It's pretty easy and doesn't involve a lot of chopping since you just throw most of the ingredients in the blender. I made a few changes to the recipe, and posted the version I made below. I found that the recipe posted on the Food Network site was a little bland (I'm blaming that on pressure to tone down the flavor for American palates), so I added a few jalapenos to the sauce, extra spices, and used chicken broth instead of water. I also supersized the recipe and added some spinach to bulk it up and intensify its greenness because the first time I made it, my husband was disappointed that it only made three servings (ok, maybe we both had seconds).

Green Chicken Curry
Masala Paste:
2 bunches cilantro, with just the very ends trimmed off
8 oz frozen spinach
2 onions, coarsely chopped  

7 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 t fresh ginger
2 large jalapenos, coarsely chopped (if you like it spicy)
approx 1/2 t salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
enough chicken broth to make the blender work, about 1/4-1/2 cup

Remaining ingredients:
1 T oil
1 1/2 T cumin
2 t ground coriander
1 t ground turmeric
2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 
1/2 t cinnamon 
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 t sugar, or to taste

Serve with brown basmati rice

Add the masala paste ingredients to a food processor or blender. Add the cilantro, stems and all (but trim off the very tips if they are brown). Cilantro stems are very tender and flavorful, so adding them is a good way to stretch the sauce and reduce waste. You may need to do this in a couple of batches.
 Puree on high until smooth.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the spices and toast for 30 seconds. Pour the masala mixture into skillet and kind of fry it, stirring often until it deepens in color, about 4 minutes.

Add the chicken, stirring to coat every piece in the masala. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often
. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Serve with brown basmati rice.

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