Chicken Curry with Cashews
Ingredients
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika, or 3⁄4 teaspoon sweet paprika plus 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons oil, or half oil and half butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 chicken legs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Time Estimates

Prep time: 15 min  

Cook time: 1 hr  

Total time: 1 hr 15 min  

Directions

  1. Toast the whole spices in a dry pan (you might as well use the same one you will use to make the curry) until quite fragrant. Grind in a mortar or spice grinder (discard the cardamom husks and grind just the seeds). Combine with the turmeric and paprika and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a wide saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the onion is just starting to turn golden; this may take 15 minutes. Meanwhile, skin the chicken legs and separate at the joints; if you like, you can hack each leg section through the bone Chinese style into 2 or 3 pieces. Season with a little of the salt.
  3. Stir the spice mix and bay leaf into the onions and cook until fragrant. Push the onions to the side and add the chicken pieces to the middle, turning to coat them with the spice-stained oil. Add the water and remaining salt, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered until the chicken is quite tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Grind the cashews in the mortar, or chop and mash with a knife (see Technique Note). When the chicken is tender, stir the cashew paste and yogurt into the sauce, correct the seasoning, and keep warm until ready to serve. Do not let the sauce boil after adding the yogurt or it may curdle. Serve with rice, Naan, or both.

Yield

Makes 8 servings

Good to know

This is more or less based on the Moghul korma style of rich, creamy curries from northern India, thickened and enriched with ground cashews. Feel free to make it hotter or milder by varying the proportion of sweet and hot paprika and cayenne. I like it best with chicken legs, but use breasts or other parts as you like. It also makes a great way to serve leftover roast turkey (see the variations).

Which beer should I drink with this?

Märzen or other dark lager.

Notes

1. Technique note: A lot of recipes for cashew-thickened curries call for grinding the nuts in a blender with some of the cooking liquid, but I find a mortar and pestle to work much better to reduce a handful of cashews to a paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, simply chop the nuts as finely as possible with a knife and then mash the chopped pieces against the cutting board with the side of the knife blade, using a kneading motion. Another option is to buy some cashew butter at the health food store.

2. If you don’t feel like toasting and grinding your own spices, use 1 tablespoon commercial curry powder plus 1⁄2 teaspoon each sweet paprika and ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves. Adjust the heat to taste with cayenne.

Variations

Leftover Turkey Curry: Along with turkey sandwiches and turkey slices warmed up in the last of the gravy, the post-Thanksgiving weekend in my family often includes a turkey curry. Prepare the basic curry without the chicken; when the onions are quite soft and the sauce is full of flavor, add the cashews and yogurt, then add 2 to 3 cups of cubed roast turkey.

Vegetarian Korma: In place of the chicken, use 4 cups assorted diced vegetables such as winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Cut slower-cooking vegetables like white potatoes into somewhat smaller pieces than faster-cooking varieties, or add them to the pan sooner. Peas can be stirred in for just the last few minutes of cooking.

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

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