Hooray! I can eat again! I started off with no fiber kheemas and then graduated to this delicious dried fruit curry. Is there anything better than being able to eat again after having had a restricted diet for any reason?
This recipe is a good example of a cooking “technique” (although I am not sure anyone else has ever called it a technique) used in Indian cooking that comes as a surprise to Westerners I think. And that is the fact that plain water is enough to create a gorgeous sauce because it is flavored from the spices and thickened by the spices. The chicken and the dried fruit flavor it as well, of course, but I never fail to be amazed by the sauce that results from adding 1-2 cups of water to a curry like this. You expect it to be watery, and indeed I suspect it would be without the spices, but they act as a starch as well as flavor, and bind the sauce together into something rich and thick.
The recipe is my own, but I was inspired after readng about a dried apricot curry in At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. I confess that I did not even look at what spices she used, I just suddenly knew that I wanted to make a dried fruit curry. Everyone loved this except Sammy who seems to be going through one of her anti-meat phases. So I don’t count her!
- 2 cups dried fruit, I used a mix of sweet and tart cherries and sweet and tart mango slices
- boiling water
- 2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- 3-4 T vegetable oil, divided
- Large pinch of saffron
- 3 Ceylon cinnamon sticks
- 5 cloves
- 3 large onions, thinly sliced
- 8-10 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup minced ginger
- 2 T double strength tomato paste
- 2 t ground cumin
- 2 t ground coriander
- 1/4 t Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 t garam masala
- 1/8 t cloves
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- Juice of half large lemon
Pour boiling water over the dried fruit. It should just cover their tops. Set aside.
Prep the onion, ginger and garlic.
Brown the chicken thighs in 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven. Remove the chicken thighs and set aside.
Drain the dried fruit, reserving the water. Use that water now to deglaze the Dutch oven. Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Crumble the saffron into the now boiling water.
When the water is almost completely boiled off but not quite, add another 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Then add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. If it starts to scorch or burn, add another splash of water.
Add the ginger, garlic and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Add a splash of water if need be.
Add the ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and garam masala. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the 1 1/2 cups of water and stir in. Add the chicken thighs back into the pot with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer until the chicken thighs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Add the lemon juice before serving. Taste for additional salt or garam masala as well. Serve with rice.