Curried Chicken with Cashews

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I was reading Sandra’s (at Please Pass the Recipe ) latest post the other night and was intrigued when she mentioned that the Cookbook Guru, hosted by Leah, was exploring Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook this month.  I whizzed over to Leah’s site and a whole new world opened up to me.  Each month, Leah and the other members explore one cookbook and, as Sandra mentioned, this month it is Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian CookbookCheck it out.  “I can play this game” I thought.  “I have the Complete Asian Cookbook.”  Before I knew it, I had told Leah I would join in. And then the penny dropped…  I do, in fact, have the cookbook, but it is in Bridgetown and I am in Perth.  I started searching on the web for recipe’s from the book.  Luckily, Google books has a fairly generous preview of the book.  I chose a recipe from the previewed pages. (They were an excerpt from the Indian and Pakistani chapter).  I hit a jackpot.

If not for committing to showcase the Complete Asian Cookbook, we would, most probably, have had a salad tonight.   Instead, we had a very luscious curry.  Maus hasn’t stopped smiling.

When looking for recipes from the book, I checked out Charmaine’s website.  The Complete Asian Cookbook was first published in 1976 and has been reprinted almost annually. Further, it has been translated into five languages.  Those stats are a pretty good ad for a book.

I was interested to see that curry powder was used in this recipe, rather than individual spices.  It is not cool these days to use curry powder but I didn’t care. I had some Madras mild curry powder in a jar and it worked perfectly.  I buy mild curry powder.  You can always add chilli but you can’t take it away.

These quantities will serve 5-6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken (Please consider the chicken and buy free range.)  I follow Maggie Beer’s advice and always buy the biggest bird available.  According to Maggie, the big birds have much more flavour than small birds.  Don’t worry about leftovers – curry tastes all the better the next day and the day after that …  If you wish, you can buy chicken pieces but don’t be tempted to buy filleted chicken.  Curry is not the same when the chicken is not cooked on the bone.  The bones add to the lusciousness of the sauce.
  • 3 tbs* ghee (use butter if you don’t have any ghee)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 3 tbs* curry powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder, optional (see below)
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped.  (My tomatoes weren’t particularly large so I used 5.)
  • 2 tbs* chopped fresh coriander or mint leaves
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ cup natural yoghurt
  • 125g raw cashews, finely ground (I used roasted as I had them in the pantry.)  I whizzed mine in the food processor.

*These are 20mil tablespoons

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Method:

  1. Cut the chicken down both sides of the back bone.  Keep the back bone for when you are next making chicken stock.  Cut down the breast bone.  Cut each half into two.  Cut the leg from the thigh and the thigh into two or three pieces.  Cut the wing from the breast and the breast into three pieces.
  2. Heat the ghee or butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger on very low heat until soft. Charmaine advises that long, slow cooking at this stage is the basis of a good curry and she is so right.  It is the cooked down onion that makes the curry sauce.  I cook the onion for, at least, half an hour.  Whenever it gets a bit dry, I add a splash of water to keep it loose and stop it sticking to the pan.
  3. When the onion is completely soft and there is no raw onion flavour left, add the curry powder and chilli powder and stir for 1 minute. Charmaine notes that you can substitute paprika for the chilli power if your curry is already hot enough for your taste.  I added half a teaspoon of chilli powder and half a teaspoon of paprika to be on the safe side.
  4. Add salt, tomatoes, chopped coriander or mint and cook down to a pulp.  Stir regularly.  Again, add a splash of water if it starts to look too dry.
    A little tip I picked up from Pat Chapman’s Curry Bible is:  if you want your curry nice and smooth, blend the sauce with a stick blender.  I added a bit of water, blended it and then cooked it for another 15 minutes or so to make absolutely sure the onions were cooked and I had a nice, smooth sauce.
  5. Add the chicken. Stir well to coat chicken with spice mixture.
  6. Cover tightly and simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure it does not stick.
  7. Stir in the garam masala and yoghurt and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the cashews and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  9. If you want to be fancy, sprinkle the curry with extra cashews and chopped coriander or mint leaves before serving.
  10. We served ours with cucumber raita and lemon pickle.  It was very, very nice.

21 thoughts on “Curried Chicken with Cashews

  1. Of course you own the cookbook, just a shame it wasn’t in the same location as you but you did well. I’ve never made a curry before – curry just isn’t used much around here although there are some restaurants picking up on it. Now, not knowing curry – what’s wrong with curry powder? I guess I always thought curry was just curry – is it a blend of different spices?
    Now those are some big cashews you’ve got there. If I make this dish I’d have to get extras because they’d be gone before going into the pot.

    • That is interesting that you don’t eat curries much. They are very popular in Australia, I would hazard a guess that everyone eats them, though some would prefer them without the chilli. Curry powder is a blend of spices and nowadays most cookbooks will list the individual spices rather than use curry powder. In the 70’s most people in Australia only used curry powder. In India, the combination of spices is very much determined by the region so, for example, a Madras curry powder would be a very different blend to a Kashmiri curry powder. Try this recipe, I am sure you will like it. If you are worried about too much chilli go to an Indian shop and ask for a mild blend and substitute the extra chilli for paprika.

  2. I could enjoy a large potion of this fabulous curry and nothing wrong with using a curry powder – I also err on the side of mild rather than too hot.
    Have a super day Glenda.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  3. Hi Glenda – that curry is a regular event in this house, and many of my guests get served this. We love it, and I love the Charmaine Solomon book …

  4. Thanks for the tip on google books I’ll have to check it out because I was struggling to find recipes online not having the book. I’m loving the Cookbook Guru idea too and the monthly challenge. And it’s -1C today and you’ve inspired me to make curry tonight for supper. Perfect timing!

  5. Yum, this curry looks divine! I may have to add it to my must try list. Also well done on the lengths you had to go to in order to find a recipe… I’m glad it was a winner and worth the effort. Leah

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