India continues to occupy its historic position as the largest producer of spices in the world. There is something magical about the Indian herbs and spices that transform simple ingredients into exotic dishes. It is a common assumption that among the traditional uses of spices was their role in disguising food that was well past its best. It is not until the middle of the 17th century that a more selective use of spices and herbs is visible. The British love affair with Indian food goes back to the early 17thcentury. Edward Terry, one of the first Englishmen to taste Indian food with all its goodness, talked about onions, ginger, herbs and spices with meat pieces being used in well-proportioned quantities, thus cooking food that is exceedingly pleasing to all palates. In United Kingdom, you conduct a word association test and say “spicy” and the response would be “curry.” Assuredly they are perfectly normal for no other food is so inextricably linked with aroma and flavor than Indian Curry. The smell of Indian Curry excites the taste buds in a unique and inimitable way and that for us is comfort food.
Nothing makes the use of the fabulous spices from India like a good curry does. While these curries can be made with a bunch of ingredients like seafood, lamb, pork and an amazing variety of veggies – chicken seems to be a the most popular universally and rightly so! It is very hard to go wrong with a chicken curry because these is no hard and fast rule when it comes to making one.
When it comes to curry recipes in India there is no limit. Each state, region and even family has their own unique recipe for it. No matter which part of the country you are in, you can be sure of eating a good chicken curry. Right from the delicious creamy and rich curries of the north, the light and flavorful jhols of the east, and the variety of coconut based chicken curries from the West and South of India – the list is endless.
Chicken curries form the north are rich, thick and more robust as compared to the ones made elsewhere in the country. They are also the ones that popularized curries abroad. The likes of butter chicken and chicken tikka masala use tandoor or grilled chicken in a creamy tomato and butter based thick curry. There are also simpler ones like a dhaba chicken curry or tariwala murgha which don’t have creamy, buttery gravy but are high on flavor from whole spices, onions and tomatoes. Best eaten with crisp roti’s and paranthas, they could easily be the star attraction in an Indian meal.
In the South of India chicken curry is just as popular as it is in the North albeit made with different ingredients. While in the north the curries are made with onions tomato and yogurt in the south Coconut or coconut milk is a regular addition to give body to a good chicken curry. From the coconut and bedagi chilly based masala of Karnataka to the curry leaf and onion base of an Andhra style peppery chicken curry or the cooling coconut milk based curries of Kerala – there is one thing that is common for curries from the south – plenty of flavor. These delicious curries are served with famous South Indian accompaniments like idlis, dosas, appams, iddiappams, Kerala paranthas etc.
A chicken curry from Bengal on the other hand is slightly runnier than in other pockets of the country and is called a jhol. While you might be more familiar with a machcher or fish curry from the east, they do make a delightful chicken curry too – murgir jhol. Eaten with a generous helping of rice, make sure you make this Bengali curry with either mustard oil or jhorna ghee.
In the West, Gujarat and Rajasthan are predominantly vegetarian but Maharashtra makes up for lack of a good chicken curry from the region. The flavorful pandhra or white curry and the fiery tambda rassas from Kolhapur are world famous. Even the Malvan coast boasts of delicious chicken curry served with crisp fried multiflour vadas called vade or rice flour bhakris called amboli.
One of the simplest chicken curries you can make is a home-style chicken curry with the most basic ingredients at home. All you need to do is heat some oil or ghee in a pan and sauté a few whole spices in it. Add a puree of onions and sauté followed by tomato puree, powdered spices and chicken pieces on the bone and cook till the chicken in well done and juicy. As this is a quick and easy chicken curry the chicken is directly added to the curry, but you could also pan fry it before adding it to the curry. You can watch a full video recipe with exact ingredient measure and step by step methods here. You can find all these delicious Chicken curry recipes from India easily online now.