This chicken recipe is full of warming flavors, including turmeric, hot Madras curry, ginger and chilies. But the addition of coconut milk mellows out the kick, and together they all play well with the unsung hero of the dark meat world, chicken thighs. Thighs are low-maintenance compared to their more common cousin, the breast, which tends to dry out if overcooked; thighs can be left alone to simmer and evolve into fall-apart tenderness.
I like to serve this one-pot meal with either steamed rice or soft warm flatbreads for sauce-sopping. And to round out the meal, add a bowl of yogurt combined with grated cucumber, some fresh herbs and minced garlic. Or a bowl of fresh chopped tomato, cucumber, pear or apple with a squeeze of fresh lime.
Coconut curry chicken
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 1/2 cups full-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2 tablespoons hot Madras curry powder
3 pounds chicken thighs, preferably bone-in and skin on
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
1 tablespoon neutral oil, canola or grapeseed
1 large yellow or white onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated or thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 medium-size tomatoes, diced or 1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 jalapeños or 1 poblano, seeded and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
½ cup chicken stock or broth
Garnish: Marcona almonds or raw almonds, fresh chopped cilantro, lime wedges
1. Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and curry powder in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife point, make a few slashes in the meatiest part of the thighs. Add the chicken and turn to coat thoroughly, rubbing the spices well into the slashes. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours and up to overnight.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a large pan over medium heat. When butter is melted, add onions and garlic, ginger, cinnamon, tomatoes and jalapeños; stir and cook until the jalapeños are soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Add chicken, skin side down, and the marinade and cook about 15 minutes. Shake the can of coconut milk before adding to the pan; add the broth. Stir and mix well to combine. Cook chicken another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees and when oven is ready, turn the chicken pieces over (skin side up) and place pan in the oven and cook, uncovered, another 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is tender and skin is golden and bubbling. If skin is browning too quickly, tent with foil. Serve garnished, if desired, with almonds and cilantro and lime wedges.