Some people say asparagus is extremely delicate, should be barely seasoned and treated with caution when it comes to spices. Don’t believe them! In this fiery, bold-flavoured curry the asparagus reigns over the remaining ingredients and neither the chilli, nor the other Indian spices have lessened its distinct flavours I’m so fond of. Everything worked so perfectly together, I’m sure it will not be my last Indian experiment with this delicious vegetable.
This dish is a thickened variation of the Chicken with Curry Leaves from Andhra Pradesh (Kodi Gasi), based on a recipe from The Essential Andhra Cookbook: with Hyderabadi and Telengana Specialities by Bilkees I. Latif. As usually I have modified the recipe and the ingredients’ amounts (e.g. making the “sauce” thicker and slimming it down), so make sure you check the original recipe and this fascinating collection of regional dishes.
If you look for other asparagus dishes, you might like some of these:
If you realise you like this curry a lot, I advise preparing a big batch of masala and either keeping it in the fridge (it will keep for five days) or even freezing it in small portions. Then you stir fry onions and curry leaves (if you have them), take a protein source (meat, seafood or paneer, and why not tofu?) or/and a vegetable to the masala, add some water and the quick delicious meal is ready in no time at all!
I always slim down coconut milk-based curries and I did this one too, so if you want to make it creamier, add coconut milk instead of the 100 ml water in the cooking process.
You can obviously adjust the heat level to your preferences and use half mild peppers and half hot peppers, or even use only mild peppers.
You can skip the curry leaves, but do try them if you can get them (I wrote a bit about them here). They will make this dish unforgettable. If you worry about buying a big bag of curry leaves (they are usually sold in big packages), divide them into small portions, wrap tightly in plastic film (or, if you have the vacuum packing machine, vacuum pack them) and freeze. Do not dry them. Dried curry leaves have lost almost all of their aroma, so it’s better to skip them than use dried. Fresh curry leaves can be bought by internet (look for them on Amazon or Ebay).
You can serve this dish topped with fried onion/shallot and curry leaves (the original chicken dish calls for those).
Obviously, you can make this dish vegetarian, skipping the chicken breast.
Preparation: about 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves four):
2 medium chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
approx. 300g of green asparagus spurs, lower tough parts removed
2 tablespoons coconut fat (or any oil of your choice)
3 big European shallots, finely sliced
15 curry leaves (fresh or frozen)
150 ml coconut milk
4 long fresh red chilli peppers (choose the variety according to your heat resistance), sliced
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon crushed garlic (about 3 medium garlic cloves)
4 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
4 shallots, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
First prepare the masala. Roast the whole spices in a pan (make sure they don’t burn and take the pan off the heat as soon as they start to yield a strong but pleasant smell).
Grind the spices in a coffee grinder, spice grinder or in a mortar.
Mix well with the remaining ingredients in a food processor until you obtain a thick sauce.
Cut up the asparagus spears into bite-sized pieces. Divide into two groups: thick pieces and thin pieces. You will add the latter at the end of the cooking process.
Heat the oil in a shallow pan and stir-fry approx. 2/3 of the shallots with half of the curry leaves.
When the shallots start becoming soft, add the chicken pieces, salt them and stir-fry until slightly browned.
Add the masala, the thicker pieces of asparagus spears, about 100 ml water and let the dish simmer until the chicken is cooked.
Five minutes before the end add the thinner parts of asparagus. Thus, the asparagus will remind crunchy.
(You can serve this curry with fried shallots and curry leaves on top.)