This was my grandmother´s signature dish. Along with her signature dessert. Growing up in this country, Indian food was unheard of. By the time I was a grown-up I discovered real curries. Real because they don´t rely on curry powder; they develop their flavor by way of many ingredients coming together wonderfully. This one is not that kind of curry, because back in the old days it was the store-bought powder or nothing. And she didn´t use coconut milk because, let´s face it, it was even more unheard of.
I got hold of my grandmother´s handwritten recipe books a few years ago. To my surprise, the last few pages have a handwritten index and It´s my writing. I didn´t remember it but I wrote those indexes for her when I was a teenager, so she wouldn´t have to go through all the notebooks every time she wanted a recipe.
I regularly crave things I grew up eating, but even though I like the idea I usually have a modernized version of it. Going back to the original recipe I found out that this curry was a more complex preparation that I thought. It had lamb, coconut milk and what she called samblat, that consisted of little bowls with an assortment of garnishes, such as orange sections, peanuts, chutney, mint, bananas, grated coconut, fried onions, nuts, cucumber, yogurt, raisins, and pears. So you were served the lamb curry and then you could add as few or as many of these chopped additions to your plate. In the end the plate was a big mess of everything mixed together. It was great.
Today I streamlined it a lot and used chicken. I know many will be appalled but I used an already made curry powder. I buy it from a specialty store where they make it themselves so it´s excellent. In the near future I will make the whole dish with homemade curry powder, white rice and samblat.
I couldn´t find the meaning of the word samblat, or if it´s even a word used in indian cuisine. Or even a word. Maybe someone knows and can tell me.
I came upon this post some days ago. I think grandparents have a very special place in our hearts. My paternal grandmother is the one I grew up cooking with. That alone forged an unbreakable bond with her, since food is such an everyday presence in my life. And then, there are little things that make her presence more real sometimes. Like reading about this story posted on one of the most meaningful, and thus powerful, days of the year for me. I don´t believe in coincidences, so I dedicate this to my grandmother, who was such an extraordinary woman, who lived her life in such an avant-garde way for her time, and from whom I learn a little bit more everyday.
JULIE´S CHICKEN CURRY
Note: as you can see in the pictures I ate this twice; once with couscous and green onions and then just the curry with some peanuts.
2 Tbs vegetable or olive oil
4 chicken legs and thighs (8 pieces total)
1 large onion
1 large leek, white and light green part only
2 green apples
1 cup white wine
2 or 3 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup light raisins
Couscous (see below)
Couscous (see below)
Chopped peanuts and/or green onions, for garnish
Chop the onion and leek. Peel, core and slice the apples.
Heat the oil in a large casserole and sear the chicken pieces. Add the onion and leek and cook until softened, about 3 minutes, careful not to brown the vegetables. Add apples and cook for 1 minute. Add white wine, cook for 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan.
Add the curry powder, cayenne, stock, coconut milk and cook for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender, but the apples still hold their shape. Add the raisins and cook a few more minutes.
Serve with white rice and sprinkle with peanuts.
Couscous: Put 1 cup uncooked couscous in a bowl with 1 Tbs butter. Add 1 cup boiling water and cover for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork and season with salt and pepper.