Last Thursday being a holiday in France, I was actually able to cook during the week! I had been craving spicy curry lately but Indian offerings in Paris leave a lot to be desired. And in any case, we are trying to cut down on eating out since we started keeping track of how much we actually spend per month on restaurants!
One of my maternal grandmother's favorite expressions when dining out is "I can make this for a quarter of the price at home, and it would still be better..."
Last year I decided to take this approach to Indian food and bought a cookbook, took a trip to the little épiceries in the Passage Brady and bought all sorts of exotic spices like black cumin, cardamom pods, star anise and fenugreek to grind up into my very own masala and set to work in the kitchen to make samosas from scratch and lamb vindaloo, Ribbit's favorite. It was one of those dishes, like boeuf bourginon and lapin à la moutarde that are delicious and comforting and sinful at the same time but take six or seven hours of time in the kitchen to make really perfect. I have never taken the cookbook off the shelf since...
One thing I believe this experiment did teach me, though, were the building blocks of Indian cuisine. What I gleaned was that the essential components to a good sauce are ginger, garlic, and onion pastes, a masala mixture, and ghee. From these essentials, I threw together an abbreviated chicken curry and added several handfuls of chopped tomatoes to cut the creaminess of the dairy-based sauce.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (if you're using thighs and have deboned them yourself, make sure to remove all excess connective tissues and nerves)
1 cup/1 individual serving of plain yogurt, whole or skim milk (I used Velouté because I had some in the refrigerator)
1 cup low-fat sour cream (crème fraîche)
1 small onion, sliced thinly in rounds
4 cloves of garlic, pureed
4 teaspoons pureed fresh ginger
three tablespoons curry powder (curry powders vary in intensity with producers, if you have the time and the ingredients, it is best to grind your own powder)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped or a small can of chopped, stewed tomatoes, without the juice
several whole cloves
olive oil or ghee
chopped cilantro for garnish (I used basil because my cilantro hasn't sprouted yet)
In a heated pan, add olive oil or ghee. When melted, add garlic and ginger pastes and sliced onion. Sautee on low heat until onion is translucent, making sure garlic and ginger pastes do not burn. Add chicken and cook through, about 7 minutes. Add yogurt, sour cream, curry powder and cloves to the chicken and onions; set on low heat and simmer for twenty minutes.
At the same time, think about making your basmati rice. I like to add cumin to the rice spot for an extra flavor.
The best part of the meal, besides being a super healthy, natural and fairly low-fat dish? When you add up the price of the ingredients, the meal for two comes to about 7€, including rice. Which is about 20€ less then it would cost at your standard Indian restaurant in Paris. This is something my grandmother would appreciate!