Cumin is truly my favorite ingredient, and when I pair that with chicken, it ends up being such a beautiful and aromatic curry that is just so comforting on a cozy night in. Chicken curries are my go to homesick dishes. So this dish is especially for my South Asian friends who are a thousand miles away from their hometown and just want something to take them back home.
I love the combination of a tomatoey curry with boastful spices and this dish is exactly that. Generally, I don’t like to puree my onions and tomatoes because to me the chunky bits brings more texture to the dish, so you really don’t have to puree them like I have in this dish if you don’t want to. I hope this dish is as satisfying to you as it was for me, and the best part is that it will leave your hallways smelling like cumin goodness (although that may not always please your neighbors :p).
3 tbsp cumin (Yes that much!)
1 Dried red chili in halves
1 medium onion chopped or pureed
4-5 whole tomatoes chopped or pureed
1 cup of coriander roughly chopped
1.5 tbsp ginger paste
1tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups water
.5kg chicken (leg/thigh with bone)
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 pods of cardamom
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
2 bay leaves
The steps to cook this curry is very simple. The only difficult part is that it will take about 30-40 min. This will not only ensure that you have thoroughly cooked the chicken but most importantly give time for the juices from the bones to really lift up the dish.
In a pot, heat oil to about medium heat and add cardamom, bay leaf, and cinnamon. In about 30 secs, add in onions and fry till brown. Once the onions show some color, add garlic and ginger paste and fry for about another 30-40 seconds. Add this point, add in 1/4 cup of water and mix. Then add turmeric, cumin, chili and salt. At this stage, the water will keep drying up quickly so you want to add 1/2 cup of water, stir, wait till the water starts to dry a little and then add another 1/2 cup of water. You want to do this about 3 times and keep stirring well to really make sure that the spices cook well. If you don’t take the time to do this, you will end up with grainy specs of spices in your curry.
Now add the tomato and half a cup of coriander and incorporate well for about 2 minutes. At this point, taste and make sure you have added enough salt, because after you add your chicken, you won’t be able to taste till chicken is cooked through. Don’t worry if it seems too salty at this stage, because once you add the chicken in it will balance out. Now slowly add in the chicken, 1/2 cup of water and turn the heat on medium high. Your curry should be at a constant boil at this point and you need to be constantly stirring and folding your chicken through the beautiful spice mixture. Just as we did earlier, you have to now slowly keep adding 1/2 cup of water, stir, wait till your curry starts to dry and you see the oils separating, and then add another cup. This process is actually what will really get the flavors into the meat, what we in Bangla called bhuna, so make sure to keep mixing the chicken so that the meat cooks well and the meat actually absorbs the beautiful mixture.
The best way to check if your meat is nearly cooked is to check if the meat from the leg has separated from the bone. If your chicken seems close to done, taste it one last time to make sure that the flavors are balanced. Now add 1/2 cup of water, give it a good mix, turn the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid on. Once you take the lid off, you should see a nice golden layer of oil on top separated from the spices. Just before you serve, give the chicken one last good mix with the oil and enjoy!