Gyalden’s Chicken Curry

I finally got the chance to help Carol make Gyalden’s chicken curry, which is the best i ever ate.

In a deep heavy pot brown a dozen of either chicken legs or thighs in a shallow pool of cooking oil. Set the browned chicken aside.

Throw a chopped carrot into the pot and start it browning, add a chopped onion and continue slowly browning. When the onion is golden brown throw in several chopped garlic cloves and about two inches of peeled and julienned fresh ginger, and saute them a couple of minutes with the onion. Set the sauteed vegetables aside with the chicken and deglaze the pot with a slug of dry vermouth.

Add 3 T. curry powder, 1 t. cinnamon, 1 t. turmeric, a bay leaf, and six cloves. Stir well.

Add a pint of chicken stock, a scant handful of raisins, several tablespoons yogurt, and stir well.

Add the chicken and vegetables, cover, and bring the pot to a simmer.

In a small dry skillet, heat 1 T. cumin seeds until fragrant, crush or grind them, and add to the pot.

Cover and cook until the chicken is fork tender and falling off the bones. How long depends on the age of your chicken and how well you browned it, but unless you’re cooking a stewing hen or a working girl “retired” after she’s no longer laying enough eggs, half an hour is a good time to start checking.

Serve over rice.

For the spices, especially the curry powder, the best source is a busy little store where most of the other shoppers are wearing saris, likely better quality to begin with and definitely fresher. Forty-five years ago when Charmazel and i were both living in Lubbock, Texas, her mother would send her care packages from India containing herbs, spices, and teas since in those days there was no Indian grocery in Lubbock and the spices that the supermarkets carried (and a very limited range at that) were all so old they’d lost most of their flavor. Rainbow Grocery here in SF carries a large range of bulk herbs and spices, and there’s enough turnover that they’re reasonably fresh. Since i’m in there at least once a week, i buy my herbs and spices in small quantities, so at least they don’t go stale on my spice rack.

Gyalden is Tibetan, so i thought i’d better run this recipe past Charmazel, and she agreed that it would make a chicken curry perfectly acceptable to Indian tastes, well, with two caveats. First, the addition of that yogurt. But second, the avoidance of pre-mixed curry powder and the substitution of your own curry powder made to order from your own mixture of spices and peppers. The yogurt, definitely, and perhaps as much as a cup of it. But i’m too old to spend years developing my own curry powder blend.

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