Sometimes the unplanned recipes are the best! This is simple chicken curry with lot of fresh and deep flavors. Surprisingly, unlike the usual chicken curries, this does not require a whole lot of spices.
The recipe was born out of an emergency, while a quick dinner was demanded and I was contemplating using up the many fresh bunches of cilantro I had got. I cooked impulsively with what ever I had within reach.
But the flavors came together really well. The smokey aroma of the cumin and crushed pepper as they hit the hot oil, the refreshing crisp of the fresh cilantro, chili pepper and lemon and the hint of sweet of the coconut milk blended in so perfectly - each one subtle but distinct at the same time. If you like fresh cilantro, you are going to love this simple dish. This was a rather quick and easy curry to make. We all loved it and I ended up making this twice in less than two weeks.
I had posted Chicken Kolhapuri before, a dish with strong and robust flavors. Many of you wrote back to me saying that you tried and loved this dish. This recipe today is along the lines of the the Kolhapuri Chicken in its flavors but without the many spices, and with the freshness and the lightness of the Chicken Curry with Tomato and Green Chilli Pepper, that is so perfect for this spring time.
(You could use the same sauce and the recipe with Shrimp, Potatoes or Paneer.)
Curried Chicken in Cilantro Chili Pepper Sauce
Ingredients: (serves 3-4 )
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, (or chicken thighs, of equal weight), cubed
- 1 teaspoon chile powder/paprika/cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the Sauce:
- 6 tablespoons oil
- about 4 turns of freshly ground black peppercorn
- 1.5 teaspoon red crushed pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2.5 cups chopped onions
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 small tomatoes, grated
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 3/4 cup base green chutney (recipe follows)
Base Green Sauce/Chutney: (makes approx. 1 1/4 cup)
- 3 cups packed fresh cilantro/coriander leaves. tender stems included – washed well and drained
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 6 hot green chili pepper, (remove seeds and membranes if you do not want it spicy)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoon water
To make the green sauce/chutney:
Remove the tough stems of the cilantro before measuring. Blend/puree all the ingredients for the green sauce in a food processor until smooth. You might have some of the chutney/green sauce left over from the recipe above. Use it as a condiment or freeze it for later use.
Wash the chicken and pat dry. Rub the lemon juice, salt and chile powder on the chicken cubes and let them rest for at least an hour, overnight works better.
Heat the oil, add the crushed pepper and black pepper. After a couple of minutes add the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add the chopped onions and the sugar. Fry the onions at high heat for about 8 minutes. They will start to brown on the edges.
Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and add them to the pan. Cook for about 12-15 minutes till all the water evaporates and the chicken starts to brown and the oil comes up on the sides and bubbles. You will have to frequently toss the chicken pieces during this time, so they do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the ginger paste, grated tomatoes and the chutney/green sauce to the pan; lower the heat, stir everything together in the pan and let it cook covered for 15-20 minutes. Uncover and toss everything frequently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. The chicken should be cooked at the end of this time.
Uncover and 1 cup of water combined with the coconut milk. Simmer for 10 more minutes uncovered and switch off the heat. Let it sit for about half an hour before you serve. Garnish with more fresh cilantro if you wish.
Serve with rice or flatbreads.