If you put Lemon Juice in Milk, it will curdle and make a mess, right? Yet, if you follow the directions for this Indian Curry Chicken dish, that does not happen. Like many classic Indian dishes, there are rather many ingredients and a precise order of combining them.
In practice, this dish is not too difficult to put together. The result is mildly spicy and with a delicate, subtle fragrance imparted by the aromatic Lemons, Coconut, Almonds and Poppy Seeds. Recipe adapted from Attia Hosain and Sita Pasricha.
Chicken Milk Curry
1 Chicken, about 2½ pounds
3 ounces Onions
4 ounces Butter
1 teaspoon Ginger powder (Adrak)
1 tablespoon Curry powder
2 teaspoons Poppy Seeds (Khaskhas)
1 ounce Dried Coconut
2 teaspoons Black Pepper
½ teaspoon Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Salt
2 ounces ground Almonds
2 cups Milk
Juice of 3 Lemons
There are a lot of ingredients here. Following a specific routine can simplify and streamline the preparation. First, we line up the Mise en Place, arranging the various ingredients basically in the order they will be used in cooking. Then we can do the preparation work, which will simplify the cooking.
First, disjoint the Chicken and cut into serving pieces.
Blanche the Almonds in boiling water and when they are cooled, slip off the skins and grind them. A food processor, blender, or spice grinder is helpful here, or you can of course use the mortar and pestle method.
Peel the Onions and slice them finely.
Measure out and combine the various spices, except the Ginger Powder, Almonds and Coconut..
Squeeze out the juice of the Lemons and remove the seeds and set this aside.
The final Mise en Place will have these dishes:
- chicken, cut up
- Ginger Powder
- Other Spices combined, including Almonds and Coconut
- Lemon Juice
Now you are ready to go.
To cook the dish, heat a heavy steel or iron pan and melt the Butter, then fry the Onions to a light cream color.
Next add the Ginger Powder and continue to fry until the onions are a pale golden color, but not yet brown.
Then add the Chicken pieces to the fried Onions and fry the Chicken pieces well.
When the Chicken pieces have been lightly browned all over, add all the remaining Spices. Almonds and Coconut to the Milk and mix well. Add the Milk and Spice mixture and cover the pot or pan and simmer gently, stirring occasionally. Take care not to let the Chicken or liquid stick to the bottom of the pan.
When the Milk and Spice mixture has been reduced to a thick gravy, check the Chicken for tenderness. If it is not yet tender, you can add more water and continue to simmer until the Chicken is tender. If in facdt, the chicken is tender — reduction will take about 40 minutes — it is time to warm the Lemon Juice a couple minutes over a low flame.
When the Lemon Juice is heated, add to the Curry and simmer a few more minutes to combine the flavors and then serve. If you have reduced the Milk to a thick gravy, and the Lemon Juice is warmed before adding and folded in carefully, it will not cause the gravy to curdle but will add a delicate fragrance of Lemon, which will join with the Almonds, Coconut and Spices, especially the Poppy Seeds, to produce a delicate, subtle and mildly spicy Chicken Curry.