I’ll never forget the moment I realised (watching Myna Street Food Youtube channel) the existence of delicious, creamy Indian curries with no trace of cream or coconut milk. Since this fantastic discovery I must have prepared at least twenty yogurt curries, but this most recent version was the absolute number one (even though my yoghurt has curdled as you might see above!). I guess the seasonal aubergine, the super ripe fresh tomatoes and my own home-grown curry leaves were the main reasons for this difference, but I’m sure this combination of spices and flavours will be fantastic in any time of the year. Indian curry recipes have usually either a vegetable or a protein source only, but I like combining both : thus I don’t need to prepare any side dish (though Indian pickles, such as these chillies, are a perfect addition). In short, it’s a wonderful healthy summery light stew, quick to prepare easy to reheat and perfect also with some Western bread.
TIPS: Feel free to change the below amounts of spices; I’m sure they’ll differ in my future cooking sessions anyway. I’ve been cooking Indian for some time and even though I still feel quite ignorant, I’ve become bolder with the use of spices (also thanks to certain Indian Youtube videos where the amounts aren’t indicated and which force users to be creative!). I know which spices I’m fond of, so I use more of these and in general I now try not to look at the indicated amounts (unless it’s a powdered spices mixture!).
Curry leaves: if you don’t have curry leaves, just skip them; the remaining spices are much more important for the final flavours. You can buy them in Indian and Sri Lankan grocery shops (ask for them : in my grocery shops they are delivered rarely and usually quickly disappear), also online (not necessarily grown abroad!). Buy a big amount and freeze in small portions: it’s better than dried form which I don’t advise because there isn’t much aroma left and dried leaves are too tough to be eaten (while fresh soft curry leaves can be eaten, are absolutely delicious and also healthy, from what I’ve read).
I still don’t know why sometimes yogurt in my curries curdles and sometimes it doesn’t even though I prepare the dish in more or less the same way…. I should read more about avoiding this phenomenon. This time it has curdled but the result was still amazingly good, so I didn’t care. The only way I’m sure the yogurt won’t curdle is when it’s added after the cooking process, stirred into the curry just before serving.
Spices: all the below spices can be bought online (and in grocery shops of course), but you can also find some of them in organic shops (and sometimes in pharmacies!). If you cook Indian even only twice a month, the worst thing you can do is buy spices in these supermarket tiny glass jars… the spices usually have no aroma and are also horribly expensive per kilo (all this is of course my experience).
Reheating: this curry keeps for several days in the fridge and is excellent reheated (I’ve made a big batch and had it for three meals this week), but make sure you don’t add the yogurt before refrigeration. Add it either before the reheating process or just before serving.
Preparation: about 40-50 minutes
Ingredients (serves three-four):
1 big aubergine, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tablespoons oil
a small handful of fresh or frozen curry leaves
1 heaped teaspoon of nigella seeds
1 flat teaspoon fennel seeds
1 flat teaspoon yellow or black mustard seeds
1 flat teaspoon cumin seeds
2-3 medium hot fresh green chillies, sliced
3 medium Western shallots, chopped (or 4-5 Asian shallots, or 1 big onion)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
2 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 big ripe tomato (peeled or not), chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon mild chilli powder (I use Kashmiri chilli powder)
250 ml natural yogurt (I’ve used Greek-style yogurt)
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a big pan and stir-fry at medium heat until slightly browned and soft. Put aside.
Heat the remaining oil in another pan, add the whole seeds (cumin, mustard, fennel and nigella) and curry leaves and stir fry at medium heat until the seeds start popping.
Put aside and add the shallots/onion and the green chilli. Stir-fry until the shallots soften.
Now add the garlic and the ginger, stir-fry for a minute.
Add the chopped tomato, the turmeric and the chilli powder and stir-fry until the tomato falls into pieces and becomes a paste.
Finally add the yogurt and when the sauce starts simmering, add the chicken and the aubergine.
Simmer until the chicken is done.
You can serve sprinkled with fresh coriander.