I woke up to a relatively chillier day today. It is mid January and so far winter has not made its presence felt, but today was nippier. 18 degrees may not seem like cold at all for people living in colder climates but for us dwellers of the sub-tropics living in apartments with no internal heating, it starts to feel like winter has finally arrived.
I do not mind the cold weather really, but it is the lack of sun on most days which makes it harder. That said, cold weather is also a good excuse to enjoy good food and the Paalak Chicken recipe I am sharing today is one such. Apart from the fact that this is bursting with flavours and quite simply a one pot meal, it is also extremely forgiving as a recipe and can be easily tweaked as per the spice and richness levels desired. You could use pureed, blanched or chopped spinach as I did; feel free to omit the tomatoes or increase the quantity based on the level of tang desired but do remember that spinach and tomatoes complement each other well. While a good Chicken Curry need not have tomatoes and I usually avoid adding them but in this particular curry it is a must, in my humble opinion.
I have used 2.5 cups of chopped spinach but if you would like , you could easily up it to 3.5 cups and might consider blanching and pureeing it. Make sure to adjust tomatoes accordingly. For me, 2.5 cups spinach is just about right for 700 grams chicken as I use chopped spinach.
Also, as I always stress that thighs and drumsticks taste best in Indian Curries. I almost never use breasts and just in case I do I make sure to marinate them overnight or a minimum of 3-4 hours in oil, lime, red chilli, turmeric and salt so the meat doesn’t taste as chewy and dry.
Another important tip to make a decadent chicken curry is adding a teaspoon or two of ghee while roasting the spices. It takes the taste to another level. However I usually avoid this step for everyday meals. Adding half a cup of heavy cream towards the end helps in balancing spices but makes the dish very rich too. I have added just a teaspoon or so in the recipe shared below but feel free to omit or increase the quantity based on your preference.
YOUTUBE LINK for video recipe
- Chicken, cleaned and cut into desired sized pieces- 700gm (I used thighs and drumettes)
- Turmeric- 1 tsp
- Red Chili Powder-1 tsp
- Lemon juice -2 tbsp
- Ginger-Garlic paste-1 tbsp
- Whole Cumin-1 tsp
- Bay leaf-2
- Cinnamon-1 one inch stick
- Star Anise-1
- Dried Red Chilies -2 (optional)
- Coriander powder- 1 tsp
- Cumin powder-1/2 tsp
- Chicken Curry Masala or Garam Masala- 1.5 tsp
- Ginger-Garlic paste-1 tbsp
- Spinach, chopped fine- 2.5 cups
- Onion, vertically sliced- 2 cups
- Tomatoes, pureed- 3/4 cup
- Salt- 1.5 tsp or as per taste
- Heavy Cream- 1tbsp
- Mustard Oil-2 tbsp
- Mix the cleaned chicken with all ingredients of marinade and keep aside for 30-45 mts
- Then heat oil in a deep, thick bottomed wok and add whole spices (cumin, red chilies, bay leaf, cinnamon and star anise) and stir on a medium high heat till the spices are fragrant
- Add onions and stir on a medium high flame till they are light brown, then add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, coriander and cumin powder and mix well for 2 minutes
- Then add Chicken Curry Masala or Garam Masala and sauté for another 3 minutes
- Add marinated chicken and cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes, then add chopped spinach, mix well and cover on a medium flame
- Cook covered with intermittent stirring till the chicken in 60% done, then add tomato puree and salt, cover and cook till done
- Turn off the heat and drizzle with some heavy cream and serve hot with a side of chapatis or rice