Meera Sodha’s Chicken Curry

I received a rice cooker for Christmas! I had to make some sort of chicken dish to serve with my perfectly cooked rice. 🙂

This comforting chicken curry was very thick and hearty. The recipe was adapted from Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen by Meera Sodha. I also included some of Sam Sifton’s adaptations from The New York Times.

The dollop of yogurt on top was essential. We also ate it with warm naan, roasted cauliflower and steamed spinach.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 T unsalted butter or ghee
  • 1 T neutral oil, like canola
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, approximately 2 inches long
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 2 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled with a spoon and grated or minced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 green cayenne or jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp chili powder)
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons strained or puréed tomatoes (I used Pomi)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 T whole-milk yogurt, plus 1 cup to serve with the meal
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 T ground or slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • pinch ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups brown Basmati rice, rinsed and cooked per package directions
  1. Melt the butter or ghee in the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat, and when it is hot and shimmering, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Cook for a minute or two, stirring often, to intensify their flavors.
  2. Add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic and chilies into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt; smash them together into a coarse paste. (You can also do this on a cutting board, with a knife.) (I had a bit of a struggle with this! May try the cutting board method next time.)
  4. Add the paste to the onions, and cook gently for 2 minutes or so, then pour in the tomatoes, and stir. Allow to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Add the tomato paste, ground cumin, ground turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; stir to combine.
  6. Add the yogurt slowly to the mixture, using a wooden spoon to whisk it into the sauce. It may be quite thick. When it begins to bubble, add the chicken.
  7. Lower the heat, put the lid on the Dutch oven and allow the curry to cook gently for 30 minutes or so, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Add the almonds and the garam masala, along with a pinch of cayenne, and cook for 5 minutes more or so. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.
  9. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan, and the additional yogurt for topping at the table.

Curried Parsnips with Basil

I have one more root vegetable side dish to share. This dish was a flavor-packed way to enjoy the parsnips from my CSA share. The honey and coconut oil enhanced the natural sweetness of the parsnips.

The recipe was adapted from 177MilkStreet.com, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I omitted the coconut topping and modified the proportions. The original recipe advises not to use very large parsnips because they can taste bitter.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, preferably unrefined
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on a sharp diagonal (I used 8 medium parsnips)
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn or chiffonade
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened wide-flake coconut, toasted, optional (see note)
  • Lime wedges, to serve, optional
  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium, combine the oil, honey, mustard seeds, turmeric and curry powder. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add 1 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir in the parsnips and return to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the parsnips are almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. (*Don’t stir more than once or twice while the parsnips are simmering in the covered pot. Lifting the lid allows heat and steam to escape, which slows the cooking and may cause the pot to run dry.)
  4. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has evaporated, the parsnips begin to sizzle and a skewer inserted into the largest piece meets no resistance, another 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and spoon on any liquid remaining in the pot. Sprinkle with the basil and coconut, if using; serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Note: To toast the coconut, spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350°F until light golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs

This recipe was included in the “Tuesday Nights” column of Milk Street magazine. Kebabs are a big procedure on a Tuesday night! 😉 Although the time commitment was misleading, the finished dish was absolutely worth all of the work.

We ate the kebabs with brown Basmati rice, warm naan, and Greek Tzatziki. They could alternatively be served with a drizzle of plain yogurt. The kebabs are an adaptation of mishkaki, grilled skewers of marinated meat from the islands of Zanzibar. According to the article, the islands’ cuisine is a fusion of Persian, Portuguese, and Arabic from the people that once colonized or settled in the area.

This recipe was adapted from “Feast: Food of the Islamic World” by Anissa Helou, via Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine, contributed by Courtney Hill. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 T grapeseed or other neutral oil (I used canola)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 1 T finely grated fresh ginger
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (see Note)
  • 1 medium red, orange or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  1. Trim the chicken and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, tomato paste, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Add the chicken and mix, rubbing the seasonings into the meat, until evenly coated.
  4. Marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes while you prepare the grill or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (I marinated it for about 3 hours.)
  5. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the grate.
  6. While the grill heats, thread the chicken, alternating with the pepper and onion pieces, onto 6 to 9 metal skewers.
  7. Place the skewers on the pre-heated grill. Cook without disturbing until lightly charred on the bottom and the meat releases easily from the grill, 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Flip the skewers and cook, turning every few minutes, until charred all over and the chicken is no longer pink when cut into, another 8 to 9 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges, as desired.

Note: Don’t worry if the cut pieces of chicken are irregularly shaped. As long as they’re similarly sized, shape isn’t important. Don’t crowd the skewers on the grill grate. Allow some space between them so heat circulates and the chicken cooks quickly and without steaming.

Mixed Vegetable Curry (Mix Sabji)

This dish could be made with any assortment of leftover vegetables in the refrigerator. It was healthy and flavorful.

The recipe was adapted from Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian: Quick and Easy Everyday Meals by Chetna Makan. I must mention that prepping all of the vegetables was not taken into account when including this dish in a 30-minute meal cookbook! I did double the recipe though. It was worth the extra time.

I served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Topping it with cucumber raita was also suggested in the original recipe.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 T canola or sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, if desired
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp amchur (mango powder) or tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 200 ml (7 oz) boiling water

For the Vegetables:

  • 4 T canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 12 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

To Serve: (as desired)

  • brown Basmati rice
  • warm flatbread such as naan
  • cucumber raita or whole milk plain yogurt
  1. If desired, mince the jalapeños and garlic in a food processor; remove and set aside. Chop the onions in a food processor; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan (with a lid available) and add the cumin and mustard seeds as well as the bay leaves.
  3. Once the spices start to sizzle, add the chopped onions with the jalapeños and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until golden.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oil for the vegetables in a large frying pan.
  6. Add all of the vegetables and cook them over medium to high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly colored.
  7. Stir the salt, ground spices and sugar into the onions with the tomatoes and cook for a minute.
  8. Add the vegetables and pour in the boiling water.
  9. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
  10. Serve with rice and/or flatbread, as desired. Top with yogurt or raita, if desired.

Wali Ya Mboga

In Swahili, wali ya mboga translates to “rice and vegetables.” This upscale version incorporated chicken as well. This dish was similar to a biryani with layered rice with greens, caramelized onions, and yogurt-marinaded chicken in tomato curry sauce. To serve, each serving was also topped with pickled onions, called kachumbar, and salted creamy yogurt. Beyond full-flavored.

I must mention that I really browned my tomato paste during the cooking process. Recently, I have read about the importance of letting tomato paste darken for optimal flavor- apparently, I took this advice to heart! The sauce in my finished dish was much deeper in color than in the original recipe.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I modified the proportions and method. I boiled the rice as instructed in the original recipe but struggled with the method- and wasn’t completely thrilled with the resulting texture. Next time, I would cook the rice using a traditional method or use a much larger pot to boil the rice.

Yield: 6 servings

For the Dish:

  • 1 2/3 cups good-quality white basmati rice (such as Shahzada)
  • 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek) (I used whole milk cream-top plain yogurt)
  • one 1″ piece ginger, scrubbed, finely grated (about 1 T)
  • 8 large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press, divided
  • 2 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8 medium)
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 4.5 to 4.6 oz tube double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chile powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, kale, or spinach, tough ribs and stems removed, sliced into 1″ ribbons (I used baby spinach- not cut or stemmed, about 8 cups, packed)

To Serve:

  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 green Thai chile or 1/2 large jalapeño, seeds removed if desired, sliced
  • 2 T diced cherry, grape or Campari tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek) (I used whole milk cream-top plain yogurt)

To Make the Dish:

  1. Place rice in a medium bowl and pour in cold water to cover. Agitate rice with your hands until water is cloudy. Drain and repeat until water is almost clear (about 3 times). Pour in water to cover rice by 2″; soak at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
  2. Stir yogurt, ginger, half of garlic, 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp turmeric in a medium bowl to combine. Season with pepper. Add chicken thighs, turning to coat. Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Add onion and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is frizzled and deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer onion to a plate and set aside.
  5. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in same skillet (still over medium to medium-high).
  6. Working in batches if necessary, remove chicken from marinade and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second side. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving oil behind.
  7. Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, chile powder, remaining half of garlic, remaining 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp turmeric to skillet. Cook over medium to medium-high, stirring often, until tomato paste turns a shade darker in color, about 5 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to low, stir in 1 cup water, and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors come together and sauce has thickened, 10–12 minutes.
  9. Return chicken to pan and stir to coat in sauce. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm. (I placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
  10. Drain rice and cook in a very large pot of boiling generously salted water 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. (Alternatively, the rice can be cooked traditionally using a 1:2 ratio with boiling water. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes.)
  11. Stir the Swiss chard, kale or spinach into the rice.
  12. Continue to cook until rice is tender and greens are wilted and bright green, about 1 to 3 minutes more.
  13. Drain in a colander and let sit 10 minutes to allow moisture to steam off.

To Assemble and To Serve:

  1. While the rice rests, combine onion, lemon juice, chiles, tomatoes, and 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to combine, breaking up the onion slices. Let kachumbar sit 5 minutes.
  2. Stir yogurt and remaining salt in another small bowl.
  3. To serve, fluff rice with a fork, making sure the greens are evenly distributed; transfer to a platter.
  4. Scatter reserved caramelized onions over and arrange chicken on top. (Or for a more casual look, return rice to pot and gently stir in chicken and onion.)
  5. Serve with kachumbar and salted yogurt alongside.

Pesto-ish Risotto

Every fall, black swallowtail caterpillars takeover my backyard basil plants. I needed to make this basil-loaded dish before sharing my plants with them. :/

This risotto was rich, creamy, and hearty. The absolute highlight of the finished dish was the crispy garlic and pan-toasted pine nut topping. Loved it.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Christian Reynoso. I adapted the original recipe to prepare it in a pressure cooker. Easy and elegant.

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 5 to 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (loosely packed) basil leaves (from 1 large bunch), torn into 1″ pieces
  • shaved or finely grated Parmesan, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 5 or 7 quart pressure cooker over medium heat.
  2. Add the rice and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until grains are partially translucent, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cloves of garlic slices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add all of the unheated stock; stir.
  5. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat.
  6. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure. Cook for 7 minutes.
  7. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions or place the pot under running cold water. (I used a quick release method.)
  8. Carefully open the lid, being careful of the steam. The stock should be almost completely absorbed but the rice will be covered with a thick layer of milky broth. (more stock can be added at this point if the risotto appears too thick)
  9. Meanwhile, cook the remaining 6 cloves of garlic slices, olive oil, and pine nuts in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic starts to turn golden around edges. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, until pine nuts and garlic are golden, about 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat; stir in turmeric and season with pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  11. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the Parmesan rind, if using, into the risotto. Season with salt, to taste.
  12. Stir the freshly squeezed lemon juice into the risotto and add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  13. Stir basil into risotto.
  14. Ladle risotto, discarding the Parmesan rind, into shallow bowls. Top with garlic–pine nut oil and Parmesan. Serve.

Ethiopian Chickpea Stew (Shiro Wat) & Stewed Collard Greens (Gomen Wat)

My sister introduced me to Ethiopian food many moons ago. Ever since, we have really enjoyed eating at Ethiopian restaurants but I have never prepared any dishes at home. After receiving collard greens and parsley in my CSA share, this seemed like a fitting menu to try. It could be served any time of year. For us, it was a perfect meal to serve on a rainy and cool June evening.

I loved the brightness that the grated ginger, lemon, and chopped fresh chile added to the tender, stewed collard greens after cooking. The chickpea stew recipe utilizes the genius technique of incorporating ground red lentils to thicken the base.

The recipes were adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I changed the proportions and decreased the heat intensity. I served it over rice with dollops of whole milk Greek yogurt to offset the spice. I also omitted the fresh chile garnish in the chickpea stew. In a restaurant, these dishes would be served with injera, Ethiopian flatbread.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Stewed Collard Greens (Gomen Wat):

  • 1 1/2 T ghee
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger, divided
  • scant 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 pound stemmed collard greens, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken, vegetable or beef stock, divided
  • 1/2 to 1 Fresno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the Berbere Spice Blend: (you will have a little extra)

  • 1 T smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 1 /2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • scant 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil, ground or crushed into a powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin

For the Chickpea Stew (Shiro Wat):

  • 2 T red lentils
  • 3 T ghee
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups (1 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 to 10 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 T Berbere Spice Blend (above)
  • 2 15.5-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño or Fresno chile, stemmed and chopped, optional (I omitted it)
  • cooked rice, for serving, optional (I served both dishes over white Basmati rice)
  • whole milk Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
  • injera (flatbread), for serving, optional

To Make the Stewed Collard Greens:

  1. In a large pot over medium, melt the ghee. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the garlic, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, the cardamom and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
  4. Add about half of the collards and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, then add the remaining collards.
  5. Stir the stock and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the collards are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. (I cooked it for 30 minutes.)
  6. Off heat, stir in the chopped chile, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 tablespoon ginger.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.

To Make the Spice Blend:

  1. In a small bowl or jar, stir or shake together all ingredients until combined. The berbere will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot for up to 2 months. (I used a recycled glass spice jar.)

To Make the Chickpea Stew:

  1. In a spice grinder, pulse the lentils until finely ground, about 10 pulses; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium, melt the ghee. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
  3. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and berbere. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have given up their liquid and the mixture is beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chickpeas, ground lentils, 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Boil over medium-high, then reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, uncovered and stirring often, until the sauce clings to the chickpeas and the desired thickness and consistency is achieved, about 15 to 20 minutes. (If serving over rice, cook the rice at this time.)
  6. Off heat, stir in the parsley and chili (if using).
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve the stewed collard greens and chickpea stew with injera or over rice topped with a dollop of yogurt, as desired.

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