My passion for cooking really started after I moved to the United States with my husband over 8 years ago. We were married for just under 2 years then. I remember us both feeling super excited about being on our own having moved from an incredibly supportive environment back home in Mumbai. It was especially exciting for me because, for the first time, I was in charge of the kitchen.
I learned most of my cooking from an exceptional cook – my mother-in-law. Over the years, she painstakingly put together a collection of amazing recipes from family, friends and assorted cooking classes.
I started to note down the simpler recipes – every-day food cooked at home. Since I was new to cooking, I took extra care to write the minutest of details in creating my own collection of recipes that never fail to deliver results.
When we set up home in Boston, I wanted to make a special yet simple dinner for my husband. So I decided to prepare one of his favorite types of chicken curry (“Sindhi Seyal Chicken Curry”). A delicious, bright, tomato-based curry. I serve it with plain basmati rice or an assortment of Indian breads (“Naan” or “Chappati”).
This dish freezes well and I thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and heat it on low heat. Any left-over chicken can also be used to make another great Indian dish named “Biryani” – layers of rice and meat slow cooked together (more on this later I promise!).
- 2 pounds chicken (approximately), like to use skinless thighs (but with bone-in. It is more moist and the bone adds flavor)
- 3 medium sized onions chopped finely
- 2 big tomatoes grated or pureed
- 2 -3 green chillies finely chopped (adjust spice levels to taste)
- 2 tsp ginger paste (simply grate fresh ginger (or garlic) on a handy zester)
- 1/2 tsp garlic paste
- 1/2 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 5 leaves of curry leaves (“kadi patha”) (more or less, be casual about it)
- 3/4 teaspoon turmeric (“haldi”)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder (“dhaniya”)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilly powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup water
- Salt for taste
- Heat oil in a vessel. Add the onions and brown them to a a rich caramel color. Add a little salt while browning as this will help them brown faster. ( This is the only step that will take a little time). If you want, you could use the crisp fried onions available in the Indian grocery store.
2. Add ginger, garlic paste, green chillies and chopped cilantro.
3. Saute well for 2 mins. Then add the tomatoes, while the tomatoes are cooking add the turmeric, red chilly powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and curry leaves. Cook till the oil separates and the tomatoes are cooked.
5. Then add the yogurt and saute for about 10 minutes.
6. Add water, cover and cook. It will take about 15 to 20 minutes for the chicken to cook.
It makes a great biryani if you have any left over chicken. I prefer to have the gravy thick but it also can be eaten with white steamed rice. ( Onions help in making the gravy thick and gives it a rich taste).
Bonus – Seyal Biryani:
- 1 cup Rice: Heat oil in a vessel. Add a small piece of cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 3 green cardamoms and bay leaf. Salt for taste. After 1 minute add the rice and saute making sure all the rice grains have been coated well. Add 2 cups of water and cook the rice .
- Layer in an oven proof dish: Place the chicken on the bottom on of the vessel, rice on top and sprinkle some black cumin seeds “shah jeera” on top . Cover tightly with a lid or foil. Bake at 350 degrees in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Ready to serve. Enjoy!
- Biryani can be made out of mutton too. The cooking time for the mutton will be longer. I use a pressure cooker or a slow cooker when cooking mutton.
- Sometimes, I like to keep one day to just frying onions and then store them in the refrigerator.