We are what we eat!
The fame of Indian spices is older than recorded history. Centuries before Greece and Rome had their birth; sailing ships carried Indian spices, perfumes, and silks to Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt. It was the lure of these exotic products that brought many seafarers to the shores of India.
These spices were also used for centuries in India’s ancient medical system Ayurveda (science of life – body, mind, and spirit) to stimulate the taste buds and increase the flow of saliva, relieve gas, and reduce nausea, soothe the nervous system, increase internal body heat to relieve chills, and strengthen and promote digestion, absorption, metabolism, and circulation. For example India’s ancient yellow colored curcumin or turmeric (haldi) powder, used in many of our curry recipes ‘is arguably the most potent anti-cancer nutrient in existence.’ Today western research suggests that curcumin regulates inflammation that “plays a major role in most chronic illnesses, including neuro-degenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases and aids in healing by ameliorating the chronic inflammation associated with a multitude of ailments and illnesses, from toothaches to cardiovascular disease.”
The word curry comes from the South Indian Tamil word kari, meaning a richly spiced sauce with kari podi or curry powder. Tasty and tantalizing to the palate and the senses, curry is essentially a stew or a casserole of meat, fish, or vegetables sautéed and cooked in a mixture (masala) of several pungent spices. Chili peppers, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions, coriander, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, mace, saffron, and other healing spices form a part of many mouth-watering curry dishes.
There is more to curry than meets the eye in creating harmony and balance to make body, mind, and spirit happy. The magic of curry is in the blending and sautéing of spices (masala) in hot oil as in this delicious chicken curry!
Hyderabad-Style Chicken Curry (Hyderabadi Murgh Korma)
2½ pounds chicken pieces
1 cup plain yogurt
1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
10 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ cup fresh coconut
½ cup unsalted cashew nuts
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup corn oil
7 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
7 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon ground mace
3 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
Remove the skin and fat from the chicken, wash and drain the chicken, and set aside in a large bowl.
In a food processor, puree the yogurt, ginger, garlic, onion, chili powder, turmeric, coconut, cashew nuts, nutmeg, and salt.
Combine the yogurt mixture and sesame seeds with the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Wash the potatoes and drain.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat and sauté the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves and mace for 1–2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the spices change color to a darker shade.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken and marinade, and stir for 5 minutes until boiling.
Add 3 cups water and mix. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent ingredients from sticking, until chicken is tender.
Add the potatoes and lemon juice, and mix. Cover and simmer for 7–8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot with plain Basmati rice, roti, vegetables, legumes, and fresh tossed salad.
Be on friendlier terms with your stomach! Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your family and friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.