Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices

Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices

I have to admit – Before we moved to Virgin Gorda, I had no idea that it existed. When my husband, Dwight, called me to ask me if I would want to go, I had to look it up its whereabouts on the Internet before I could even make a decision.

Before coming here, I had no idea that a small island in the Caribbean could have so much beauty and soul. Later I learned, the beauty part comes naturally because of its location, being located right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. But the soul part, I learned in the last 2 years of living here, comes from the people who live here.

Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices

The islanders, as they call themselves, of the many Caribbean Islands, rarely stay where they were born and/or grew up.  They travel to other neighboring islands, mostly because of job opportunities. As they travel and settle down in their new islands, they bring their own customs, culture, and cuisine with them.

This past weekend, we had one of the biggest culinary festivals of the island, “Cultural Extravaganza”. Presented by one of the churches of Virgin Gorda, Cultural Extravaganza is considered to be the most popular culinary event of the year within the locals.

Chicken Curry with Gentle SpicesWhen we made it there around 7pm, I had no idea that Virgin Gorda is home to people from so many different islands like Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Nevis, Dominica, and Philippines, to name a few. Each island had a booth and was represented by its natives in their local outfits.

Dwight and I, literally, stopped by every single booth and tried as much food as we could possibly eat. It was interesting to see how they used similar ingredients to create such different dishes by simply using different techniques and spices.

Of all the booths we stopped by, I must say, I loved the curry chicken I got from the Guyana booth. I have had curry chicken so many times in my life before, but none of them tasted as good as this one. I could not help, but go there two more times to get more.

Dwight must have thought the same way; he said we should go find the chef and ask him the secret behind it. And we did. He was very nice to us and was genuinely happy to hear that we liked it very much.
He said that his secret is to cook the curry paste for a long time. When I asked him how long, he said between 20 to 30 minutes.  As we thanked him for sharing his secret, I had one thing in my mind. I had to make my own curry chicken trying his method.

Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices

I came home and found one of the chicken curry recipes I used many times before. It is from one of my all time favorite cookbooks, The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.

The curry paste is fairly easy to make. To make the spice mixture, I used coriander, black pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. To make the paste, I mixed the spice mixture with half an onion, fresh ginger, jalapeno pepper, garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper. I pureed them all together in a food processor. I cooked the paste for almost 25 minutes (15 minutes longer than suggested in the original recipe) in medium heat, stirring constantly. Along the way, I realized that cooking the curry paste for such a long time allows all the spices to release their oils to help marinate, and somewhat, caramelize the end product. Here, I must say, it is very important that you never stop stirring it as it may easily burn, if not attended closely. 

Chicken Curry with Gentle SpicesAfter adding the yogurt and chicken, it took less than half an hour for my curry chicken to be ready for us to eat. I served it with some white rice, but any of your favorite starches would go well with this dish.

The result was absolutely scrumptious, very similar to the one that we had at the Cultural Extravaganza Event. The best part of it was that it was even better the next day.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • To make the Curry Paste:
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 3-inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons Crossover spice (blend of ground coriander, cumin and freshly ground black pepper)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 14 oz. canned tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • To make the chicken:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups whole milk yogurt
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken press, cut into bite sizes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place half of the onion, garlic, fresh ginger, Crossover spice, salt, cinnamon, tomatoes, jalapenos, and water in a food processor attached with the steel blade. Process until totally pureed. Set aside.
  2. Slice the other half of the onion thinly.
  3. Heat 1-tablespoon olive oil in a large flat bottom skillet. Add the thinly sliced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted (4-5 minutes). Add the curry paste and cook in medium heat, stirring constantly, 20-25 minutes. (*For more on this, please read the blog post.) You will realize, in time, some of the juices will evaporate and a very curry-like smell will fill your kitchen.
  4. Add ⅔ cup of the yogurt into the skillet and cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Yogurt will thicken as it cooks.
  5. Add the chicken, ⅓ cup of water, and the rest of the yogurt (should be 1⅓ cup) in the skillet. Give it to a stir and allow it to come to a simmer. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 10-15 minutes.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a large plate. Increase heat to medium high and allow it to cook until it thickens, 5-7 minutes. Keep a close eye on to make sure it doesn't burn. Stir in the chicken back in the skillet.
  7. Taste for seasoning and add more, if necessary. Serve over white rice. Sprinkle it with chopped parsley.

This recipe is adapted (with small changes) from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper‘s Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices recipe.

 

Chicken Curry with Gentle Spices

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Comments

  1. What a great post and great recipe. I agree with cooking the spices, makes a huge difference in flavor.

  2. My wife and I love curry and your dish looks great.

  3. I am so intrigued by your recipe. It sounds complex but using ingredients that are very readily available. : )

    • Hi Crystal,
      Thank you. It really is simple but it takes just a little time.
      The end result is amazing so I think it is worth it.
      If you decide to make it, let me know how it turns out.
      Cheers!
      Ice

  4. That technique is called bunjal, where you fry the paste. Your curry looks delicious! If your interest in more Guyanese curry/dishes I have a lot on my blog.

    • Hi Jehan,
      I literally spent the last 30 minutes on your blog. You have done a great job. I have so much to learn from you.
      I love love love Guyanese cuisine. I have already pinned a couple of recipes from your blog to try in the future.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!
      Cheers!
      Ice

  5. lisa dutta says:

    Ice…..this looks lovely. Being an raised in an indian family, what people don’t realize is that these spices that have been ground by love needs the respect of these dishes. I remember that chicken curry took a great deal of time in my grandmothers kitchen to really allow all the ingredients to shine. Take the time to really cook any curry types of dishes. These dishes are really no different than an american version of making chili. There are so many types of techniques about cooking that it can be overwhelming. To make a delicious curry with a delicious layer broth takes time and practice!!!! Go out there and try it.

  6. I will definitely be making this… thanks for posting!

  7. I have been all about curry, lately, so this is perfect! How delicious!

  8. Hi Aysegul,
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Do you think it would be good with coconut millk? I cannot eat dairy but would like to find a way to try this recipe as it looks so good!
    Thanks,
    Lindsay

    • Hi Lindsay,
      I have never made it with coconut milk. However, I think it would be a good substitute. I recommend using a full fat, natural coconut milk.
      Yogurt, in this recipe does 2 things, (1) gives it a sour taste, (2) with being full fat yogurt, gives it a dense texture. With coconut milk, I think you would still have the right texture but it would be sweeter.
      Cooking times may change so I would keep an eye on it.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Cheers..

      Ice

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