On being cured of a severe dislike

October 22, 2009

Did you know that Glasgow, Scotland has the highest per capita concentration of Indian restaurants of anywhere aside from India? Well, I heard that somewhere. Who knows if it's actually true. It was the first place I had Indian food, and I suffered such intense gastrointestinal distress I thought I might die. Very slowly I tried things that were curry-scented, or tandoori, or yogurt marinated, and now, nine years later, the smell of Indian food no longer sends me running for the bathroom. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that I rather like Indian food. If you are interested in making it at home and don't want to buy those jars of pre-made sauce in the "ethnic" aisle of the grocery store, consider getting Raghavan Iyer's book, 660 Curries. I know that sounds like an exhausing amount of curries, but, dude, India is a really big country. I've probably made 10-12 dishes out of it and all of them have been outstanding. The coconut cashew chicken curry, though, nearly made my head spin around. From deliciousness, not being possessed.

Coconut cashew chicken curry
Serves 2

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup cilantro
6 garlic cloves
2-3 green chiles, stems and seeds removed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, or two chicken leg quarters (skin removed)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon garam masala

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toast the cashews, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until they are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil as you can.

Combine the cashews, coconut, cilantro, garlic, and chiles in a food processor and puree.

Re-heat the same skillet, and toast the sesame and cumin seeds until they smell nutty and toasted (about a minute or two). Stir in the cashew/coconut puree, and stir about 1-2 more minutes.

Push the mixture to the sides of the pan, and brown the chicken in a single layer. Pile the cashew mixture on top of the chicken so it doesnt burn. Flip the chicken over to brown the other side, again piling the cashew mixture on top.

Combine the salt with 1/2 cup water. Pour this mixture over the chicken, scraping up and browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and cover the chicken until it is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir and baste the chicken occasionally.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon. Shred the chicken with two forks. Stir the yogurt and garam masala into the sauce in the skillet. Add the chicken back in and stir to combine. Serve over rice.