As I was taking this picture DH walked in. “You know what is missing here here, don’t you? ” there was a faraway look on his face. I knew where he was – reliving the “pub days ” of Bangalore. Buddies, beer and banter – the ritualistic Bs of good old bachelor days. Finger foods were an important part of those carefree evenings, and that is where this dish dish – Curry Leaf Chicken – comes from. Today though, the best part about this dish is the effortless cooking.
Pretty much every chicken curry in Kerala have curry leaves in it. In those parts if you wanted a meal without curry leaves you may have to cross state lines. Well, may be I exaggerate, but still… Now this is not a chicken curry, but a dry appetizer where curry leaves play a big role. It is easy to make dish that one can put together in the evenings without a lot of time and effort.
Here are the spices and seasonings used in this dish. The flavors are a bit of north south fusion. I like to use fresh ginger and garlic as opposed to the ginger garlic paste often found in Indian Stores. A fine grater (zester) comes very handy here. Grate these right into the dish, or marinade for truly unmatched flavors.
I know I have said this before, but it is truly an easy dish to make, make the marinade , add to the chicken, and marinate for a 10 minutes. There is enough time to multi task – tackle the kids homework, edit that final draft or do 10 minute yoga or just enjoy a bit of music.
The marinade is made with a few ingredients – yogurt, turmeric powder, garam masala, ginger, garlic, curry leaves , chilies and salt. Curry leaves have strong earthy , woody flavors. Only a few, 5 to 6 , curry leaves are needed in the marinade. Crush or chop these into the marinade.
Cut the chicken to bite size pieces. I recommend using boneless skinless chicken. It saves on cooking time and more importantly finger foods have to be convenient for conversation. Try the tandoori chicken or the Peruvian Chicken if you are looking for a bone in recipe. Mix the chicken with the marinade and set aside for 10 minutes. When ready to cook, heat a heavy bottomed pan with lid add the chicken along with the marinade into it. Cover and cook over medium heat until it boils. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. When using bite sized boneless pieces that is all it takes.
Once the chicken is cooked, take the lid off stir the chicken pieces and let the extra juices cook out. At the same time heat a small pan with 1 tbsp oil. Break off 2 stalks of curry leaves and add to the oil along with green chilies. You could use dried red chilies as well, but I find that the smoky red chili flavors compete with the curry leaves.
Once the extra juices of the chicken is dried add 2 tbsp of coconut cream (or cream) to the chicken mix well, taste, adjust salt if needed and turn off the heat. Pour the oil and half of the curry leaves over the chicken. Stir and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining curry leaves.
Isn’t this a something you would want to much on while pondering the weightier matters of human existence and sharing a bottle with like minded people? What if that is not me you ask ? Don’t worry the chicken wasn’t either. I would like to serve it with some traditional coconut palm toddy. If you ever go to Kerala try to get some – toddy shops are aplenty there, but the good fresh toddy “madhura kallu” is a bit hard to come by.
But that is not the only way to enjoy this dish – my kids love this Kariveppila Chicken in a wrap or on pizza. Talk about unlikely matches! If that is what you are planning to do, let the curry leaf oil infuse the chicken for a few minutes, and remove the leaves before the next step.