MY BROTHER-in-law, Freddy, once told me the secret to his successful cooking. "Be gentle with the food," he said. Freddy is a very kind person, not often taken to irrational behavior. This meal is not for him.
It is no news to screaming, angry people that cooking is therapeutic. Perverse satisfaction can be gained from dismembering a whole chicken, hacking away at a cabbage or pounding a scallop of veal.
Bread bakers have been into hostifity cooking for years. They get dizzy at the thought of sinking their hands into mounds of malleable, soft, fleshy dough thinking it is the face of their enemy. I believe psychologists call this enmity projection.
Today's meal requires very little creativity or clean-up. It's like the scene in "Norma Rae" when the heroine yells at her husband, "You want cooking. I'll give you cooking," and throws a pot onto the stove, smashes a whole dirty cabbage in the pot and adds the tea kettle.
To prepare the chicken for the onslaught, remove the innards and wash the chicken. Take a large butcher knife and hack off the legs, wings and breasts. Chop the onions, not in a prissy little dice like the color pictures in the Time-Life cookbooks, but in irregular gouges (imagine a lumberjack, chopping wood). Do the same to the tomatoes and the apple. Just a quick chop-and-wound and it's all done. Now, don't you feel better?
(Sorry, Freddy, this chicken curry likes it mean.) MAD AS HELL CHICKEN CURRY (4 servings) Vegetable oil 1 chicken 5 ripe tomatoes, quartered 1 firm green apple, quartered 1 onion, chopped 1/2 small can tomato paste 2 tablespoons curry powder (or more to taste) 1 teaspoon each of coriander, tumeric and cumin (optional) Salt and pepper to taste 1 container (8 ounces) plain yogurt
Put enough vegetable oil into a large pot to cover the bottom. Throw in the chicken and everything else except the yogurt. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 2 hours. If the water looks like it is drying up add more. If it is too watery remove lid and reduce liquid.
It can be served on rice or by itself topped with yogurt. Or you can wait until the curry cools, along with your temper, and eat it the next day.