Looking to spice up the night with your loved one? My Indian-inspired Curry Braised Chicken Thighs for two is sure to do it.
One of my favorite cooking methods is a slow-braise. It’s almost magical to take a tough protein, cook it slowly at a low temperature and transform it into something buttery tender.
Braising uses both moist and dry heat. The protein (generally a tough cut with lots of connective tissue) is first seared at a high temperature then cooked in a covered pot for up to several hours at a low temperature until the protein is extremely tender and the connective tissue has broken down.
This dish uses budget-friendly chicken thighs, which lend themselves well to this cooking technique. However, they don’t take hours to become tender.
Indian cuisine may seem intimidating at first because of all the exotic spices. However, this recipe uses ingredients found at any local grocery store. Madras curry powder is available at Penzeys and at international markets. Madras curry powder isn’t authentically Indian; it was created by the Brits to try and mimic the amazing curry flavors of India.
A word of warning: Madras curry powder can be very hot. In addition to ground chilies, it also has spices such as turmeric, coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and fenugreek. If you enjoy curry but don’t like the heat, substitute a mild curry powder or blend your own.
Instead of carrots, vary the vegetables and use cubed sweet potato, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets or spinach. Chickpeas would also make a nice addition. Serve with plenty of brown basmati rice to soak up this flavor-packed sauce. If desired, a dollop of plain yogurt will help cool it down.
4 chicken thighs, on the bone, skin removed
Salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil (or as needed)
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon curry powder, such as Madras
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
— Brown basmati rice
— Plain yogurt (optional)
Season chicken thighs generously with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
Heat oil in a deep skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown 2-3 minutes per side or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
Add more oil if necessary. Add the onion then reduce heat to medium-low and cook 4-5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add carrot and cook 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned in places.
Add curry powder, ginger and garlic and cook very briefly, about 15 seconds. Add tomatoes, chicken broth and cream or coconut milk. Return chicken thighs to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover slightly and simmer 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees.
Adjust seasoning, stir in cilantro. Serve with brown basmati rice. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and plain yogurt if desired.