Back in high school I had a friend who constantly convinced me to push my spicy food limits. She’d invite me over after school and we would snack on pickled jalapeños while watching movies. We would inevitably end up raiding the fridge, and I was often handed a plate of food that was completely unrecognizable to me, usually with unpronounceable names (if I was even given a name by which to call it!) We’ve since lost touch, but I look back fondly on those days full of new experiences.
One dish that I DO remember vividly was something my friend just called tomato lamb curry. It was so spicy it seared my taste buds, the lamb was the perfect texture to offset the sauce, and it was served with a big pile of basmati rice to make sure you could get every last bite. Unlike most curries I’ve tried since, this one was not at all sweet, and under the spice there was a fantastic tanginess that I still can’t place to this day. I never dreamed it would be so hard to find a similar recipe! I know she told me that it could be made with lamb, chicken, or whatever protein I had on hand. I had a “recipe” (no amounts, but a list of ingredients) once, but unfortunately it was lost years ago. Every time I search for curry recipes they seem to be full of curry powder or sweet spices, which I’m afraid would offset the tanginess I’m looking for. I’ve finally decided to start a curry quest- I may not find what I’m looking for, but I definitely won’t if I don’t try.
Chicken is cheaper than lamb where I live, so I’ve decided I will experiment with chicken curry, and if I find a promising sauce I will try it again with lamb. I have been reading curry recipes all week, and I mashed together a few promising ones while adding a few things I almost remember, hoping it might work.
Results- fairly delicious, but unfortunately this is not the curry I’ve been dreaming of. It does have promise, it’s definitely got spice, but it is missing the tanginess and is a little too sweet. I’ll have to think on it awhile and try again. It’s a fairly solid curry, however, so here is the recipe if you are interested.
Curry attempt number 1
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 yellow onion sliced thinly
- 1 c plain greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1.5 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- salt to taste
To grind and add later
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 12 dried chilies. Mine came in a bag from the grocery store and did not have a proper name, but on the back they were recommended for curries. When you open the bag they smell spicy. They are small and red with a lot of seeds. Picture below.
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- Splash of water
- Cut chicken into small pieces. Place in bowl with all marinade ingredients and mix well. Leave to marinate for about half an hour.
- Take tomatoes, chilies, garlic, and splash of water and puree until smooth in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
- Heat oil in large, deep skillet (you will need a lid.) Cook onions in oil until they turn soft and golden.
- Add chicken and extra marinade ingredients to pan. Cook on high heat for about 5 minutes while stirring.
- Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Uncover pan, turn heat to high, and cook for about 10 minutes. You want to make sure the chicken gets up to 165 degrees f, and you are looking for some of the liquid that was released earlier to dissipate. Turn heat to medium.
- Add in tomato mixture and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add about 1/2 c more water (add it until the sauce looks like it has a nice consistency to you.) Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes- until oil starts to separate and float on top.
Serve with rice or flat bread.