This is a simple curry that uses loads of tomatoes and whole spices to get maximum flavor. In Kashmir, cooks traditionally use large pieces of chicken (this dish would normally be made with a small quartered chicken), but you can use anything you have access to. The flavors are simple, rustic and well-rounded. Simply served with boiled rice, chicken is transformed into a delicious dish for dinner or lunch.
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1 small-medium onion, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 -inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- salt to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon pure red chile powder, (or paprika or Kashmiri chile powder, for color)
- 1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 medium-large tomatoes, pureed
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, or 4 leg quarters, skinned
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan and add the whole spices; let them splutter (a.k.a. simmer) for 15 seconds.
- Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, using a blender, make a fine paste of the ginger and garlic with a little water. Add to the pan and cook until the excess liquid has evaporated and the paste has fried for 30 seconds.
- Add the salt, powdered spices and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until oil is released from the masala sauce, around 10–15 minutes.
- Add 3/4 cup water and bring to the boil, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the chicken pieces and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, around 25 minutes.
- Take off the lid and add a splash of hot water if the gravy has reduced too much or, if necessary, cook off excess liquid over high heat. Serve with rice.