Run – don’t walk – to the Savory Spice Shop closest to you (if there isn’t one, find them on the web) and get just a bit of each of these wonderful, aromatic spices. There are quite a few in this recipe but you most likely have some on hand as they are commonly used….and this is a really simple curry – one of the easiest ever! And it is NOT hot! If you want to make it hot, you can. Not all curries are.
Yes, you can buy “curry powder” – but ask anyone from India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, etc. about “curry powder” and they will wonder what you are asking about. They blend various spices for each dish just as Italians, Chinese, Greeks, and other cultures do. Each dish is special and the spices – seasonings – need to be special too.
The trick is to sauté the spices in either butter, oil, or “ghee” which is really just clarified butter (but really makes a difference in the flavor – use it if you can).
Curries are some of my favorite foods … serve them with rice as a base. Condiments such as peanuts, coconut, chopped onion (white, yellow or scallions), chutney, chopped tomato, sliced banana, small chunks of pineapple, cashews, etc., are often served with them to offer differences in taste and texture.
Naan, a flatbread similar to pita only longer and rectangular, is used both to push the chicken and condiments onto your fork but also to sop up the wonderful sauce.
When you love it, it’s OK to say I told you so!
Sri Lankan Black Chicken Curry with Roasted Spices
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil or ghee
- 1/3 c minced shallots
- 1 Serrano pepper, sliced into thin rounds (2 or 3 if you want it hotter)
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken, cut into small chunks (I used thighs)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, woody ends removed, and bruised
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 c water
- 1 c coconut milk
- cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or large, wide frypan with a cover, over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and Serrano pepper and cook for one minute. Add the coriander, cumin, fenugreek, cinnamon, cayenne, clove, and cardamom and stir to mix well. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a couple shades darker and becomes very fragrant.
Add the garlic and ginger, mix, and cook one more minute. Add the chicken, stir to coat in the spices, and stir fry for three to four minutes. Add the lemongrass, salt, paprika, and water, stir, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, on low heat until the sauce is hot and the chicken is cooked through. Remove lemongrass before serving.
Top with cilantro leaves, if desired. Serves 4