Simplicity speaks volumes in this chicken curry. This recipe is so simple and yet has the classic flavors only the whole spices can bring.This dish wholly depends on spices that is used very commonly and the caramelized onions. The balance between the sweetness of the onion and the nutty, warm flavors from the spices and the chicken is amazing.
Time is all you need for this recipe. Starting with slowly cooking the onions which can take up-to two hours (a slow cooker might come in handy here..) .First time I made this dish was for a party of 14 people or so for lunch,so I caramelized the onions the night before which saved me a lot of time. You can make the onions two days ahead and store it in refrigerator,no harm done.
The ratio of onions to chicken is quiet a deal for this recipe.The onions should enhance the taste and rich flavors at the same time not overpower the dish itself. Lets not forget our hero, Mr.Chicken. I have used 500 grams of white onions to 700 grams of chicken. Onions will reduce quite considerably in size and get sweeter.
When onions are halfway through, add all the whole spices. Once they are done,add tomatoes, turmeric, chili,coriander, cumin and garam masala powder.Increase heat to medium high and let tomatoes cook through until they are soft and oil leaves out. Add chicken pieces. I used drumstick and thigh pieces with bones.
Once you’ve added chicken, reduce the heat back to low, let it cook for about 50 mins to an hour.Time can vary depending on the amount of chicken used and the heat. I recommend using a meat thermometer if you are not sure if the chicken is done. Chicken is cooked if thermometer shows 165 F or 74 C.
Add one to two cups of water while chicken is cooking depending on how you thin or thick want the curry to be. I did not add any water since I served it along with rice and Chana dal which requires a more intense flavored curry to go with. If I were to make just chicken curry and rice, I would add extra water.
Chicken curry with caramelized onions serves 3 to 4
Ghee or butter – 2 tablespoons
White onions – 500 grams
Chicken – 700 grams (drumsticks and/or thigh pieces with bones)
Tomatoes – 300 grams (chopped)
Garlic – 4 pieces (sliced)
Ginger – 2 inches ( finely chopped)
Cardamon – 4 pods
Cloves – 3 nos.
Star anise – 1
Cinammon stick – 3 inches roughly
Bay leaf – 2 leaves
Nigella seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Chili powder – 1 teaspoon
Garam masala powder- 1 1/2 teaspoons
Cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder – 2 tablespoons
Salt – to taste
Coriander leaves – Roughly chopped for garnish
1. Slice halved onions length wise. In a heavy bottomed (preferably cast iron) pot, add onions and ghee or butter,keep heat in low, cover the pot and let it cook for an hour. Stir occasionally.
2. By now, onions would have turned translucent and starting to brown. Add all whole spices – cardamon, cloves, star anise, nigella seeds, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and let onions cook until onions turn dark and brown, for an hour. It is very important that you don’t burn the onions. If you cook onions in high heat, you might burn them.
3. Once onion is done, add tomatoes, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder, mix and increase heat to medium high.Add garlic and ginger and let cook. Tomatoes are cooked when they turn soft and oil leaves out, takes about 7- 10 minutes
4. Add chicken pieces. I have used drumstick and thigh pieces with bones so that they can cook long enough in the curry to absorb and soak in spices. They also add great flavor to the curry.Add 1 to 2 cups of water if necessary.Add salt and turn down the heat to low, close the pot and cook for 50 minutes to an hour or until the chicken is done.
5. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice, rotis or naan breads.