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 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 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
- ¼ cup minced ginger
- 2 T double strength tomato paste
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 t garam masala
- ⅛ t cloves
- 1½ 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 1½ 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.