Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chicken Palak Curry

I am really obsessed with curry. I have tried and tweaked probably a hundred recipes, most far more complicated than this one, but my chicken palak is my all-time favorite. It's simple: chicken curry with spinach, but tastes like so much more than that. Something about the addition of spinach into the spicy, tomato-based curry mellows it and really rounds out the flavor.

This recipe is very versatile. You can make it on the stovetop or in the slow cooker. To keep it really simple, you can use store-bought curry powder. My favorite is Sun Brand Madras curry powder. It comes in this cute old timey tin that keeps the light out, is cheap, and has a well-balanced flavor. You can find it in the spice section of most grocery stores. Note that it contains salt, so be careful not to add too much extra.

As with many of my recipes, I use pumpkin puree to thicken the sauce--it's low carb and adds more nutrition to the recipe. Pumpkin has a very mild flavor, and with all of the powerful curry spices, you can't taste it at all. You may omit it if you prefer. Your sauce will just not be as luxuriously thick.

Note: I've started having trouble finding the Sun Brand curry powder, so I have posted my homemade curry powder recipe after the original.

Chicken Palak Curry
2 lb chicken thighs
approximately 4 T curry powder, to taste (I like Sun Madras curry powder) OR entire batch of homemade curry powder (recipe below)
2 medium onions, diced
1 bell pepper (optional)
6 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper, to taste
red pepper, to taste
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup (half a 15 oz can) pumpkin puree (optional)
1 cup chicken broth (omit if using slow cooker method)
2 t salt (less if using Sun curry powder because it contains salt)
pinch of sugar, to taste
10-16 oz frozen chopped spinach (depending on how much you like spinach)
1 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Stovetop method
Marinate chicken (optional): Place chicken in a plastic bag with half of the curry powder, squish it around to mix, and marinate for a few hours or overnight. If your curry powder does not contain salt, you'll need to add some to the mix.

In a large pot sprayed with cooking spray, sear chicken on both sides. Remove and cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Saute onions until golden. Add garlic, bell pepper if using, and spices. Saute for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients except spinach and yogurt. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Add spinach and cook 15 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt if using. 

Crockpot method
Cut raw chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and place in Crockpot. Add remaining ingredients except chicken broth, spinach and yogurt to the slow cooker and stir. Cook on low 7 hours or high 4 hours. Once cooked, stir in spinach (the carryover heat will warm it), then stir in yogurt if desired.

Serve with brown basmati rice, cauliflower "rice," or naan.

Homemade Curry Powder (Use entire recipe for Chicken Palak Curry)
2 T cumin
1 1/2 t coriander
1 t turmeric
1 t fenugreek
3/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 t cinnamon
3/4 t cardamom
1 bay leaf (optional)

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