South Indian Chicken Curry - Kori Gassi (h/t to Monisha Bharadwaj)
We have one cookbook that I will never, ever be without. I mean, we have many wonderful cookbooks full of delicious recipes, but Monisha Bharadwaj's The Indian Cooking Course is a work of precision and breadth, full of information about Indian regional cooking. Some recipes allow you to get the dish on the table in 10 minutes, some several hours. The photographer, Gareth Morgans, knows his stuff and accompanies the recipes - as well as descriptions of spices and vegetables -with sumptuous photos. This recipe is adapted from Monisha's book.
We recommend using a good-sized chicken quarters (thigh and leg), and not using breasts. We prefer the moisture and taste of quarters.
This recipe for Kori Gassi originates in Karnataka and creates an immensely rich tasting main course that's also good for you. We serve it with high-heat sauteed green beans with a handful of sliced almonds and some salt. And rice. You could easily make it vegan by switching out the chicken for potatoes and cauliflower (adding the cauliflower towards the end of the cooking process).
2-4 tablespoons oil or ghee
2 small onions, finely chopped
3-6 cloves of garlic, minced or smashed or grated
a large thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
a handful of unsweetened coconut, rehydrated in boiling water if dried
2 tablespoons of tamarind (or 1 tablespoon lime juice, added at the end)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seed
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons Kitchen Imp Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
1 hot chili, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, pureed, or 1.5 cup canned tomatoes and juice
2.25 pounds (more or less) chicken thigh quarters or just bone-in thighs, skin removed
1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat, as low fat will make the dish too watery)8 curry leaves, if you have them
salt to taste
Add 2 tablespoons of oil or ghee in a pan at least 10" across and 3" deep. Heat til the oil starts to shimmer. Add the onion and cook 5-8 minutes, til the onion is golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger, as well as the hot chili, if using. Cook for another 2 minutes on slightly lower heat. Add the Garam Masala and cook for another 30 seconds. Pour the onion mixture into a bowl to cool slightly.
In a separate frying pan, toast the coriander and fenugreek seed til slightly darker and aromatic. Set aside to cool and then grind or add whole to the onion mixture when you blend it.
When the onion mixture is cool enough, blend it, along with the toasted spices and the coconut, with a stick blender or in a blender.
Sprinkle the chicken with the Kashmiri chili powder and turmeric. Add a tablespoon or two of oil to the pan and heat to a shimmer. Place the thighs into the pan with the curry leaves and, after 30 seconds, flip them. After 30 more seconds, add the tomatoes. Stir to mix the spices into the tomatoes. Raise the heat until the tomatoes start to bubble and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the tomatoes thicken slightly.
Add the onion mixture and cook, covered, until the internal temperature of the chicken is 135 degrees. Uncover and cook until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees. Turn the heat to low, add the coconut milk, and cook for a few more minutes.
Taste the sauce and season with salt as desired.