There's only a small amount of garam masala in this curry dish, and, as is customary, it is not added until just before serving. But many of the spices that constitute garam masala are included in a paste that infuses the chicken with its pungent flavor. For convenience, we've substituted prepared coconut milk for grated, soaked and strained coconut.
We're giving a wide range of chili peppers so you can achieve a sweet-heat balance you're comfortable with. If you can stand the heat, use all 10 chili peppers and don't discard the seeds from some of them. Too much heat? Dilute the sauce with water.
Serve with basmati rice.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 5 to 10 red chili peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 3 whole cloves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (may substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
- 3 cardamom pods
- 3/4-by-1/2-inch piece ginger root, peeled with a spoon and coarsely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 6 (28 ounces) skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 can (13 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Place the chili peppers, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cardamom, ginger, garlic and onions in a food processor. Pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, to form a paste (don't worry if it isn't smooth), adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water if necessary. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, turning once, until brown on both sides. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and reduce the heat to medium-low so that bubbles just break the surface. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into a piece of chicken should register 165 degrees). Add the vinegar and garam masala. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.
Adapted from "50 Great Curries of India," by Camellia Panjabi, a 1996 book now available in paperback from Kyle Books.
Tested by Marcia Kramer.
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