Chicken Curry with Cauliflower and Peas is a healthy and easy tomato-based curry that is delicious in cold or hot weather.
As a food blogger who focuses on international cuisines, especially those of warm locales, I often face a dilemma, which is that here in America we regard much of the cooking of very hot places as comforting winter food. Especially curries. I’ve discussed this before, because it is one of those conundrums that probably perplexes many an expat (and stymies many a food blogger!). Many Americans just do not want to cook in the kitchen in the summer. Ironically, I think I stay a lot cooler cooking curries over my cooktop in the air conditioning than I would standing outdoors in the heat over a grill. So I ignore this trend because we love curries and stews year round–although I freely admit it hurts my site in the summer, when I do not have tons of grilling recipes up.
I bring this up today because as an experiment I decided to photograph this chicken curry two different ways–as a spring dish, using green to highlight the peas, and as a fall dish, using a deep orange to call out to the autumn colors inherent in the dish. Let me know which you prefer–and would you be more likely to click through to one picture than another during different times of year?
Anyway, about the chicken curry itself. Another irritating feature of the American propensity to ignore curries in the summer is that curries can be a beautiful showcase for fresh vegetables. Such as, for example, peas in springtime or fresh tomatoes in summer. I created this curry by imagining a very basic chicken curry with tomatoes and potatoes (and this is my idea of basic–the spices are all easy to come by and hopefully in your pantry), and then substituting cauliflower for the potatoes, adding peas because I adore peas in Indian food, and adding mushrooms because I had them so why not (leave them out if they are not your thing). I served this curry for a friend who had moved away and come back to visit, and she had several servings, exclaiming over how fresh the dish is. And she is right. I know we think of curries as long cooking, saucy winter food affairs, but this vegetable heavy, quick(er) cooking curry feels the very opposite of heavy.
And it is seriously delicious. I had to steal a bowlful for taking photos the next day because it disappeared quickly!
- 1-2 T vegetable oil
- 3 lbs chicken pieces with or without bone and skin
- 1 T dark mustard seeds
- 1 T cumin seeds
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- salt to taste
- 10 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 t turmeric
- 1 t ground chile pepper, heat to taste (paprika for mild, cayenne for hot)
- 2 T minced garlic
- 2 T ginger paste
- 2 T double strength tomato paste
- 1 t garam masala, plus more later
- 1 T ground coriander
- 1 1/2 t ground cumin
- 6-8 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 head cauliflower broken into bite sized florets
- 2/3 cup full fat yogurt or sour cream
- 2-3 T brown sugar, to taste
- 3 cups peas
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 t garam masala to taste
Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Brown the chicken pieces--do not overcrowd the pan, it will probably take at least 2 batches. Remove the chicken to a bowl to rest for a bit.
Add the mustard seeds to the pan and place a lid slightly ajar over the pot. When the seeds slow in their popping, add the cumin seeds. Let them roast for a minute or so, until fragrant.
Add the chopped onion to the pot with a pinch of salt. At this point, I like to keep a cup of water by the pot. If anything is scorching or sticking, add a splash of water to deglaze.
When the onions are golden, add the mushrooms with another pinch of salt. Stir occasionally, until the mushrooms release their water and start to brown.
Add the turmeric, ground chile pepper, garlic and ginger. Stir. Add the tomato paste, stir, and let cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes.
Add the teaspoon of garam masala, ground coriander and ground cumin. Stir in and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds.
Add the tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add the chicken. When it is simmering, cover and reduce to heat to maintain the barest simmer. Let the chicken cook for 15 minutes.
Stir in the cauliflower and return to a simmer. Cover and again lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer.
Let cook for 10-15 minutes--when the chicken is cooked through and the cauliflower is crisp tender, add the peas (if using fresh, let them cook for 5 minutes, but as I always use frozen I just heat them through). Place the yogurt (or sour cream0 in a medium-small bowl, and add sauce from the cooking curry by the spoonful to the yogurt, whisking the sauce in each time. When the yogurt sauce is quite warm, mix it back into the sauce. Depending on your cooktop, either turn the heat off or keep it quite low. You do not want to bring the curry to a hard boil and break the yogurt, you just want it to mix in and blend with the whole and be heated through.
Add the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, the cilantro and 1 teaspoon garam masala. Stir in and taste for more brown sugar, garam masala or salt. Serve with hot basmati rice.
In honor of my fall/spring experiment, I have 2 different collages for pinning. Go crazy!