Add a little spice to dinner tonight

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2012

We had a very nice visit to Wilmington, N.C., recently. It was the 100th birthday of a lady we have known for 35 years, and her children really planned a wonderful tribute to her. The community center had a red carpet laid for her to walk down. I was impressed that a 100-year-old could walk the red carpet. She was dressed in a black and white formal, and she waved to everyone just like the queen. A bagpiper piped her into the building, and everyone said “surprise” since Miss Dolly (that is her name) thought she was coming to sit for a portrait. We all sang “Hello Dolly” in words that were changed to reflect her life in Wilmington.

Food was provided by the residents of Old Wilmington, and letters were read to her from President Obama, Willard Scott and the governor of North Carolina. Dolly, you rock!

While the list of ingredients may seem a bit much, dinner guests will be impressed with the end result of this chicken curry.

After the party, I had our best friends for a curry dinner. I used the curry recipe that I had done for almost 35 years, but had not done lately. It is a great dish for cold weather. With a fire going and some good wine, it was a wonderful evening.

Don’t let this recipe scare you. It has lots of ingredients, but all can be found in the grocery, and it is worth the effort.

Chicken Curry

From a 1974 cookbook entitled Step-by-Step Guide to Indian Cooking by Khalid Aziz. (I bought it back in 1975 because it was a British book and I felt it might be a bit more authentic.)

Makes 6-8 servings

1 4-lb. stewing chicken (take skin off and cut chicken into eight pieces)

1½ cups ghee (clarified butter or you can use real butter)

1½ lb. onions

1 cup fresh chopped ginger

1 head garlic, about 7-8 cloves

2½ cups water

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons garam masala

3 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons cumin seed powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

10 cardamoms

10 cloves

4 bay leaves

5 sticks cinnamon

1 ½ cups yogurt

Take a heavy, 4-pint saucepan and melt the ghee, adding half the diced onions.

While they are frying on a gentle heat, liquidize the ginger, garlic and the rest of the onions with the water. When the onions are golden brown, add the liquidized mixture and stir on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Now add the turmeric, garam masala, salt, cumin seed powder, pepper, chili powder, cardamoms, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon and stir for a further 10 minutes.

Then, add the chicken pieces and yogurt. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for two-and-a-half to three hours. You will now have beautifully cooked chicken in which the spice has permeated the meat to the bone, and the flesh will fall away when properly done.

When the chicken curry has cooled, I take the meat off the chicken and remove all the spice pieces. The cinnamon sticks and bay leaves are easy to recognize, but if you leave a cardamom pod, you will recognize it if you bite into it, and that’s not good.

This curry is served over basmati rice and with condiments, which are passed around to each guest. I included peanuts, onions, green peppers, raisins, chutney, hardboiled eggs (chopped), coconut, chopped apples, green onions and chopped bananas. You can add whatever you like to this list. My husband likes his favorite achar (mango pickle).

I had made Indian bread (naan), which made the meal complete. You have that recipe from another article.