It has happened. I finally made something better than my mama makes it! I honestly rarely rarely cook Egyptian/Arab food because it never turns out as delicious as my mom’s versions, for 2 reasons 1) mom likes to add things in secret and 2) I try to make things healthier and then people comment about how my mom’s is better :(.
Today, however, I had a can of coconut milk on hand, because I’m planning on making oven-baked coconut crusted chicken strips (another recipe, for another day) and this in itself inspired a different take on chicken curry than my mama’s. You see, mama doesn’t use coconut milk, but rather boils some shredded coconut and then uses that milky-water in her recipe.
Mom’s version is simply sauteing garlic, onion and ginger in oil, adding curry powder and frying it as well, then adding water/stock + coconut watery-milk and letting it simmer away for a bit until the onion is completely dissolved. At this point, she adds either raw chicken cubes or chicken that she’s browned already (she alternates methods), cooks for a bit, then adds cashews and raisins, simmers some more till the raisins are plump and adds some fresh coriander and lime juice as a finishing touch.
Now for my version,
Better Than Mama’s Chicken Curry
- Chicken breasts, 4 or 5 cut into bite size cubes
- Oil, enough to coat the bottom of your pot
- Curry powder, about 6 tablespoons
- Onion, one small, diced
- Garlic, 3 cloves, diced
- Ginger*, fresh, a knob about the size of your thumb, grated *top tip, when you buy ginger use whatever you want then freeze the rest, it stores very well
- Hot pepper, as much as you like, diced
- Chilli powder, to taste (I recommend being liberal, Indian food is supposed to be spicy!)
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Paprika, I just sprinkled some in
- Garam Masala, maybe about a teaspoon
- Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon (I just sprinkled some in…twice)
- Coconut Milk, 3/4 cup
- Yogurt, one small container, or about 1/2 cup
- Cashews, as much as you like (I added a large handful) – optional
- Raisins, as much as you like (I added a large handful) – optional
- Lime, juice of 1/2
- Coriander, fresh & chopped as a garnish
Method: Saute the onion & ginger in the oil till the onions are translucent, then add the garlic & hot pepper and continue to saute a few minutes. Add half of the curry powder, and rest of your spices and saute an additional few minutes. Add some water, enough to cover the bottom of the pot, about an inch and half, and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, until the onions have pretty much dissolved. Add coconut milk, yogurt and chicken, and continue to simmer on med-low heat. In a separate dry pan, heat up the rest of the curry powder, stirring constantly, until it starts to smoke a bit, then add it to the simmering chicken. Once the chicken is cooked and tender, add the cashews and raisins and continue to cook for 5 minutes. If at any point, you need to add some water, do so, to reach the sauce consistency that you like. Once you turn off the heat, add lime juice and taste to adjust chili/salt/pepper as need. Garnish with coriander and serve with basmati rice and yogurt salad.
Note: My mom also always adds cubed up potatoes to her curry, but I thought the dish had enough carbs. They weren’t missed.