I think my fascination with the food from this region is boundless. Over the years, I've picked up a few amazing recipes for South Indian style curries that I turn to time and again, because the mix of spicy/sweet/sour, fruity/savory flavors speak to my soul. Just like how I sometimes yearn for risotto or Pakistani nihari or a grilled cheese sandwich, sometimes a bowl of rice topped with a South Indian curry is exactly what I need to feel nourished and satisfied. I really wish I had a South Indian auntie (in India/Pakistan, we call every older female who isn't related to us as "auntie" - I think it's a respect thing) as my neighbor, who would send me samples of her cooking everyday! Still, the internet is a wonderful thing, and having blogger friends from South India is the next best thing.
Chicken Piralan (no idea what "piralan" means, but you can find the original recipe here)
Click here for printable recipe
Ingredients for marinade:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1.5 tsp red chilli powder
1.5 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
For the curry:
3 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
1 small cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger paste
6-8 curry leaves
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 large potato, peeled & chopped into bite-sized pieces (optional)
Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Some of the fragrant spices that go into this dish.
Method:1. Marinade the chicken pieces with the spice powders, salt and vinegar for about half an hour, at least. You could even do it overnight, if you had to.
2. Heat up the oil in a saucepan on medium, and drop in the cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, curry leaves and cinnamon stick, and let them perfume the oil for about a minute. Then add the chopped onions.
3. Saute the onions for about 5 mins, till golden brown.
4. Time now to add the ginger and garlic. Saute this for an additional minute.
5. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pot with its lid and let the tomatoes soften for about 5 mins, stirring once or twice.
6. Next, add the chicken pieces, cover the pot again and let them cook for an additional 5 mins. At this point, you can add the potatoes if you're using them. Add about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water, close the lid, and let the whole mixture cook through (till chicken and potatoes are done) for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally. (I like to add a few more curry leaves here)
7. Here's the interesting step: once the chicken is cooked, heat up 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan on high. Remove the chicken pieces from the saucepan with a pair of tongs, and put them in the hot frying pan. You want to sear the chicken pieces - give them some crusty edges - then put them back in the saucepan.
8. Now check the gravy for enough salt. Also, you can turn up the heat and evaporate most of the liquid, if that's to your liking. I like mine with some gravy, but still fairly thick, because like Varsha says, it tastes great when soaked up by the rice. Turn off the heat, garnish with cilantro & serve.