As far as curry goes, this baked chicken curry may be a total eclipse (which we saw in regions in North America last Monday) to a traditional curry. It’s a winner, in terms of hands-on time requirement, ease of preparation, taste and results. All you need is the common curry spices, a blender or food processor. You’re good to go. Notably, I use a Dutch oven, on the stovetop and in the oven; there is only one pot to wash. Furthermore, it’s stress free because there’s no pot to watch and no need to repeatedly taste the sauce. The baked chicken curry came out almost perfectly out of the oven at the end.
The recipe works well and this is the only thing to which to pay attention. It’s all about the process.
First of all, make the spice mix. Roast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. If you don’t have the time, you can skip this, as well as the next step, by using what comes out of a bottle of curry powder. Otherwise, grind the spices into a coarse powder together with turmeric and fenugreek. If you have the time, freshly ground spice is the way to go.
Step 2 is to prepare the onion, garlic, chile and ginger paste in a food processor.
Step 3 is to brown the chicken pieces. Set them aside. The next step is to combine the spice mix and the fresh onion paste in the pan. (I like using a large Dutch oven that accommodates all the chicken pieces in a single layer.)
Step 4 is to blend the cans of tomatoes and coconut milk in the food processor to combine. Then, pour it over the spice and the onion mixture. Then add the chicken pieces and bring it to a simmer.
What’s most remarkable about this recipe is the final step: to bake the chicken curry in a 350°F oven for one hour. How can it not be a top-flight curry considering the layer of spices, aromatics, chicken, tomatoes and coconut milk that go into making it? Ultimately, the long and slow oven heat brings together all the beautiful flavors in one coherent baked chicken curry dish. A must-try alternative to the traditional way of making curry!
I’m linking this post to IHCC where the challenge of the week is to use milk as the primary ingredient by the current featured chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Baked Chicken CurryPrint Recipe
- 2 heaping tsp cumin seeds
- 2 heaping tsp coriander seeds
- 1 heaping tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 large green chilli, roughly chopped
- 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 3-4 tbsp sunflower or peanut oil
- 1 chicken, jointed into 6 pieces, or 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces (about 3 pounds total)
- 1 14-ounces can of tomatoes
- 1 14-ounces can of coconut milk
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
If you've got the time, toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan for a minute or two, until fragrant. Grind the whole spices (toasted or otherwise) to a rough powder in a spice grinder or with a pestle and mortar, then mix with the turmeric and fenugreek.
Put the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger in a food processor or blender. Blitz to a coarse paste, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat. Add half the chicken pieces, season well and brown them all over, making sure you get the skin a good colour. Transfer them to a large roasting dish, skin-side up. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
Reduce the heat under the frying pan, add the spice mix and fry for a minute or two, then add the onion paste. Fry, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the paste is soft, fragrant and reduced in volume. Add a little more oil if it seems to be sticking.
Put the tomatoes and coconut milk into the food processor (no need to wash it out first) and blitz to combine. Pour into the frying pan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and a grinding of pepper, then pour the sauce over the chicken pieces.
Make sure they are all coated in the sauce, then push most of the sauce off the top of the chicken - if there's too much sauce sitting on them, the skin won't brown in the oven.
Place in an oven preheated to 350°F. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through and nicely browned on top, turning and basting it a couple of times. Serve with lots of basmati rice to soak up the sauce.
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Every Day