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How to Cook Spices & Tomatoes for Chicken Curry

Learn how to cook spices and tomatoes for chicken curry from cookbook author Maya Kaimal in this Howcast Indian food video.


Hi, I'm Maya Kaimal I'm going to show you how to make chicken curry. There's millions of different ways to make chicken curry, but we're going to make a very basic version here, sort of a north-Indian style. And we're going to make it using chicken thighs. I've got some bone-in chicken thighs that I've already cooked. We've browned them in a little bit of oil on both sides, and then set them aside. Then in the same oil that we cooked our chicken pieces in we're going to add some chopped onion.

While our onions are cooking I'll tell you a little bit about the spices that are going into this curry. We mostly have coriander. Coriander is great because it also acts as a thickener in the curry. So we've got six teaspoons of coriander going into this. We've got two teaspoons of cumin, we have a half teaspoon each of black pepper and turmeric, an a quarter teaspoon each of cayenne and fennel. So that will make our masala, our spice mixture. Now our onions are getting nice and brown as you can see. The browner that you take your onions, the darker your curry will actually be. So it's nice to get them fairly brown. It also has that nice, caramel-y sweet quality which acts as a kind of counterbalance to the spiciness. You have the sweet and spicy and it just helps to create a really nice, full, deep flavor.

To our onions we're going to add some ginger and some garlic. Onion, garlic and ginger are often referred to as the trinity in Indian cooking. They're the three essential aromatic ingredients that begin most curries. So these ingredients will provide the real backbone of the curry. They really lay down that first layer of flavor. So once your onions are browned and your minced garlic and ginger start to give off a nice aroma, then you're ready to add your ground spices. You want to make sure, though, to have a little bit of water handy because you really don't want those spices to scorch, and depending on how much oil is in your pan, you might need to add just a little bit. They shouldn't scorch, but they shouldn't boil either. They should just fry. So we're going to fry these until we get a nice scent of, sort of a toasted spice smell. You can tell, if they're still raw there'll be a kind of a sharp smell, and you don't want that. You want to take it further until it's nice and toasty smelling.

Okay. We've got our spice now nicely browned and we're going to add our tomato. We're using fresh tomato, but you can used canned chopped tomato as well. I find that the fresh cook down nicer, they get a little softer. So we're going to let this mixture cook. Also we're going to add our salt, the salt also helps to break down the tomato. So this will cook together until the tomato breaks down and is nice and soft and pulpy, and that usually takes about ten minutes or so.

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