Posted on July 27, 2021 at 1:00 PM by Madhu Gadia
July 27, 2021
Jolie Cooks with Madhu Column:
Chicken Curry - Mild or Spicy?
A few days ago when I gathered and measured all the ingredients for the uppama recipe before I started to cook, I slowed down enough to enjoy every step of her directions. I vowed to do this with every recipe in "Jolie Cooks with Madhu"—and beyond. It saves time and ramps up the fun of using new techniques and ingredients.
Watching Madhu make Chicken Curry on her video on the website also helped. I resolved to emulate her calm demeanor, remembering my motto “Whatever Madhu does, I do.” In the past, I’ve sometimes avoided recipes with a sizable list of ingredients. Since I know now that Madhu’s spice blends are the key to her recipes, they are no longer a deterrent. I was not daunted as I calmly gathered the 10 spices in the recipe: 5 of them were already in my spice box on the counter and the others were in my spice drawer. I set them out with anticipation, then gathered, chopped, and measured all the ingredients.
I also read the entire recipe and saw I would be making 2 spice masalas, or mixes. One mix was of onion and spices, and the other of tomato and spices. I prepared both, putting each into its own bowl. The “hard” part was done!
Channeling Madhu’s serenity, I sauteed the two spice mixes and added the chicken with the graceful ease of a TV cooking star. I used boneless skinless chicken thighs. It took 20 more minutes of simmering to blend the ingredients into the aromatic centerpiece of a dish I shared with two sons and their wives. I served it with plain basmati rice.
Breaking Bread Together:
Here are the reviews:
Daughter-in-law A: “Thank you for bringing a sample of your chicken last night. I loved it! I had to use all my willpower to stop eating it so Joe could have a taste.”
Son A: “I loved the chicken! The thighs were cooked perfectly and the curry was awesome (after I added my homemade fire powder). NEVER REDUCE THE CALLED-FOR AMOUNT OF CHILE AGAIN! I believe it serves an integral part in the curry. If people don’t like moderately spicy food, perhaps Indian food isn’t for them. Anyway, it was very good, and I ate the remainder of the sauce with the rice! Thanks!”
Daughter-in-law B: “I appreciate the level of spice. Sometimes food is so spicy that you can't taste anything. This was a pleasant spiciness, and I could still taste a variety of other flavors. I tend to eat fast, but there were so many interesting flavors in this dish that it made me slow down and savor every bite. Very rich flavors but not a heavy sauce.”
Son B: “The sauce was creamy, just the right level of spiciness. I would order a big batch!”
Ted: “Excellent. It would go great with a beer.”
I love the fact that “Jolie Cooks with Madhu” has become a family affair. Cooking is always more rewarding when you can share your creations, and by documenting everyone’s response, you have taken your experience to another level, and mine too.
You have now mastered the art of incorporating yogurt into a curry sauce. This can be a challenging process as yogurt can separate if not added gradually to the onion base. Yogurt helps tenderize the meat and adds flavor and creaminess to the dish.
Chicken curry is a non-veg staple in Indian homes and restaurants. The difference in a homestyle vs. restaurant chicken curry is that in restaurants, instead of yogurt, use cream for added taste and creaminess, which your daughter-in-law B clearly noted.
Mild or Spicy?
Unfortunately, the word “spicy” has become synonymous with chili or hot peppers. The level of "spicy heat" is a personal preference, some like it hot (Son A) and some like it mild (daughter-in-law B). Except for chilis (green or cayenne), all other spices are used for flavor and taste. The cool part is you can make your curry with all the spices and adjust the chilis based on your family/guests' "spicy hot" tolerance. It’s easy to add “heat” but impossible to take it out.
Chicken Curry Recipe: New Indian Home Cooking, page 158.
Also, see the Chicken Curry YouTube video.
Disclaimer: "Jolie Cooks with Madhu" is an independent column. The views expressed are Jolie Zimmers's personal cooking experiences and do not represent any product or company. They are not paid or reimbursed by any third party for their viewpoints.