As I've mentioned elsewhere, earlier this year, Mark was in the hospital with a burst appendix. When I wasn't working, I would come over and sit with him in his hospital room and read magazines until he woke up and felt like visiting. It was in one of these magazines, an issue of Martha Stewart Living, that there was an article about Indina curries. It featured several very different recipes and this was one of them. What I liked about it was that you cook mustard seeds in oil until the pop. It also featured an ingredient that I was unfamiliar with - urad dal - which are lentils that have been split.
Now it just so happened that the hospital was right near an Indian grocery store so I took the opportunity to swing by there and pick up some of the more exotic ingredients that this recipe calls for. Unlike many other curries I've made or had at restaurants, this one is not at stewy. Rather it's almost silky. Does that make sense?
When Mark first got out of the hospital, this was one of the first meals I made for him. Jessica came over and we all watched Elizabeth Taylor in "Boom" as we enjoyed steaming spoonfuls of this exotic and unique curry.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 whole, dried , red hot chilies, each broken into 3 or 4 pieces
2 teaspoons brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 whole cinnamon stick (3 inches)
1/2 teaspoon urad dal (split black lentils) or yellow split peas
1 1/4 cups very thinly slices shallots (about 4)
10 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
10 fresh curry leaves (optional)
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 1/4 cups chopped plum tomatoes (about 3)
1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Riata, for serving (see recipe below)
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add chilies, mustard seeds, cinnamon, and urad dal; cook, shaking pot, until seeds pop, about 45 seconds.
Add shallots, garlic, and curry leaves; cook stirring, until shallots are golden, about 4 minutes. Add ginger; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
Add chicken, turmeric and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken is very tender, about 30 minutes.
Uncover. Bring pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until sauce coats the meat, about 15 minutes. Season with salt. Serve over basmati rice accompanied by riata.