Thursday, February 10, 2011

Curries Make the World Go Round

Look at that steam!
     I hope you are thinking, Yay Curry! But, I would understand if, instead, you are thinking: another curry? But you just posted a curry! Well, to that I have to say: This blog is called Curries and Cakes, so I need to have curries plural! And, more relevantly, I ran out of said other curry, and I need food to eat and food to freeze for everyday non-blog living. Even though, I do wish I could live off of cakes and cookies. (Those Cocoa Cookies by the way....still soft and delicious...and addictive.) 

A full meal! (There is rice underneath, it is hiding.)
     This curry will also be different after all. It will be a full meal curry. It will have all my servings of meat and vegetables in one. So, when I need to be rushing off to work or class because I have just rushed in from work or class, all I have to do is make some rice, dump on said curry (and yogurt), and eat really really fast. To that end, this curry has in it: chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, and baby spinach. I know my last curry was tomato-ey too, and the pizza had tomatoes on it, but do you see a trend? I bought tomatoes and tomato paste. Tomatoes must be finished before we can move onto other horizons. And, I used up most of the ones I had left in this recipe. Yay! Furthermore, this is a very different flavored curry from the last one. Hurrah for the power of different spices.

     I also just really wanted to have a curry with mushrooms. I love them. They are delicious, and soft, and delectable in curries because they soak up all the flavor. But before I get to the curry, did you know that you are not supposed to wash mushrooms? It ruins their flavor --- my mother and the Food Network told me. Instead, you take a damp paper towel or wash cloth, and you (gently) wipe of all the dirt off the top and underside of the mushroom. (I will not judge you if you still wash mushrooms, this is just what everyone would do in an ideal Mushroom Lovers World.) Also, aren't mushrooms just beautiful?

Beautiful mushrooms
     As a side note, you could easily make this curry vegetarian by just ignoring all the chicken steps. You also don't need to have the spinach. I actually just threw it in last minute because I realized I had some in the fridge. But, it does add a nice green note and make the curry even better for you. Also, if you don't own some of the spices, just omit them! If you only have garam masala, coriander, and turmeric, the curry will survive --- and still be more flavorful than most other foods. You do definitely need to own mushrooms. Still, I only bought one regular sized (8 oz) box of them the day I made this curry and then used them all up. So, I didn't even have to worry about excess mushrooms sitting waiting to be cooked in the fridge! Lastly, I used chicken thighs for this recipe. Even though I used breasts in the last curry, it was because I was in a hurry when I cooked it. ALWAYS use thighs when you can. You have to trim off the excess fat (don't obsessively trim off all the fat, like I used to do, because the point is to leave a little on), but they stay moist and extra tasty in curries. 

     This curry was again very easy to make and very flavorful. Its a little spicier than the last due to the black peppercorns and garam masala, which together add a bit of kick. It has the softness of the mushrooms and the spinach, the tanginess of tomatoes, plus the pungency of all the spices together. A very satisfying dinner, all in all.

Chicken and Mushroom Curry 

Makes 8 servings 

1 lb Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs
1 cup Button Mushrooms, Sliced
4 tbsp Vegetable Oil 
2 Black Peppercorns
2 Cardamom Pods 
1/4 tsp Turmeric 
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Garam Masala 
1/4 tsp Ginger Powder 
1 clove Garlic, minced 
2 Tomatoes, diced 
1/2 tbsp Tomato Paste 
1/2 tsp Salt 
3/4 cup Water 
1/2 cup Baby Spinach 

Chicken Prep: Fill a large bowl with water. Add a tbsp of sugar and a tbsp of salt. Submerge chicken thighs while getting other ingredients together.

Cooking the Chicken

Cut the chicken thighs into 1 inch cubes. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan. Add the chicken and cook it on both sides to seal. Place the chicken in a bowl, and discard the oil. Set the chicken aside until needed.

Cooking the Curry: 

Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large pan. Add the peppercorns, cardamom pods, and turmeric, and fry them for about 2 minutes at medium heat. Next, add the onions and fry them until they are translucent. Mix in the ground coriander, ginger powder, garam masala, and garlic, stirring while frying for 2 minutes. Then, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and salt. Stir to mix thoroughly. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for five minutes. Next, add the chicken and mushroom to the pan. Simmer on low heat for ten minutes, then stir in the spinach. Simmer for another five minutes, or until the curry is at the thickness that you want it. (Note: If you think the curry has gotten too thick for your liking, just add some water! The consistency should be what you want it to be.) 

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