I LOVE Southeast Asian cuisine. I really don’t like saying it, mainly because I think it’s very ethnocentric to clump all Asian cuisines together. Thai food is very different from Indian, from Vietnamese, from Filipino, from Japanese; hell even coastal and mainland Chinese cuisines are drastically different from each other. At the same time, however, Southeast Asian is a great way to blanket statement say I really admire all of those cuisines (and then some more), their philosophies about food, and their cooking techniques.
This particular dish speaks to my recent fascination with Indian food. Indian is amazing, a challenge to make, and a new thing for my pallet. You might recognize the spice mixture, as it is a pretty standard ratio and blend of spices one might use for chicken tikka masala. Most people don’t make chicken tikka at home because of the boat load of ingredients, tedious multi-day prep involved, and general lack of ability to do so. I fall victim to all of those things. BUT this tomato chicken curry is more simple, less costly, AND tasty af – almost like a masala substitute.
This curry uses a decent amount of chicken, to either feed more people or save for yourself for another time (because cook once, eat twice duh). It keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days AND I find it gets better as the flavors meld and sit over night into the next day.
There’s like actually something going on here for soups, stews, and such. At least I think. It’s funny cause there’s this debate over whether or not soups/stews/the likes get better with time. Speaking of, J. Kenji López-Alt has a pretty interesting view of “stew science” that you could check out HERE (he’s leaning on the side of YES there are things happening in your fridge that make the soup/stew you just cooked better the next day). This guy knows his shit too. He wrote “The Food Lab” amongst many other tasty things and writings. Wow I feel like that was a little mini book report, and all you wanted was some curry. I digress…
This curry goes great with just about anything, but I’d suggest serving it with cauliflower rice (like MINE), fresh veggies (asparagus, broccoli, baby bok choy, etc.), or for those that can: maybe some white rice. White rice is also something I’ve recently gotten into, because I retested it and figured out ‘hey this stuff sits pretty well with me.’ It’s a great vessel to mop up sauces such as this, and it’s even better cooked in homemade bone broth and fresh herbs.
Rice, and white rice particularly, is in this grey area of “allowed foods” for people with dietary restrictions due to gastrointestinal troubles, which surprises a lot of people because they think “oh well it’s gluten free, it must be fine.” Well amigos, there’s definitely more to it than that. I still don’t know how I feel about brown rice (which might also confused some of you) but I am still heavily influence by the “grains are icky for your gut” school of thought that people in the SCD, Paleo, and GAPS community tout. Staying away from grains for the most part has worked with my body as of right now so I’m sticking to that. But I find there’s really no one size fits all formula for good health so, you do you.
Don’t be fooled by the rather long looking ingredient list. If you have a decent array of spices and like cooking Southeast Asian food, you will be fine! Looks intimidating at first too but once you make it once or twice I think you’ll have it down pat. I don’t even look at a recipe anymore when I make this stuff. Just let the spice, time, and technique do the work for you. Brown some chicken.
Deglaze your pot with broth, tomatoes, and more spice. Add the chicken, cover, and cook.
And boom: you got some curry. Always options.
Tomato Chicken Curry
Ingredients for the marinade:
- 1 TSBP. garam masala
- 1 TSBP. ground turmeric
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. fish sauce
- Zest of one whole medium lemon
- Juice of one whole medium lemon
- Heavy 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup of homemade bone broth (preferably chicken)
- 1 can/box of strained (or chopped) tomatoes – abt. 26 ounces
- 1 TSBP. ghee (or other cooking fat)
- Heavy 1/2 tsp. ground cardamum
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- Combine all of the DRY ingredients for the marinade together, mix nicely, and pour HALF (roughly 1.5 TSBP.) over the chicken in a bowl or plastic baggie. Reserve other half of spice mixture for later.
- Next add the fish sauce, lemon juice and lemon zest. Give the chicken a good rub down and mix errythang together.
- Next cover it and throw it in the fridge for 2-24 hours. Remember, the longer the better!
- When the chicken has marinaded enough, heat a large dutch over/stock pot over medium heat and melt your ghee.
- Brown the chicken in batches and set aside. I do four at a time, and since 2 lbs. is roughly 8 thighs I end up doing two rounds. Yay math. The chicken will take 3-5 minutes per side to brown depending on how hot your stove runs. WATCH it, and if it doesn’t come off the bottom you need to give it a little more time on that side. Chillax and force nothing.
- Once all the chicken is browned, take the pot off the hot burner and add your broth, tomatoes, the other half of the spice mixture from the dry marinade AND the cardamum & ginger. Stir with a wooden spoon to get the brown bits off. Those guys are your friends… Those guys are FLAVOR!
- Return the chicken to your pot, slide it back on your hot burner and bring to a boil. Reduce back down to a simmer, place a lid on your pot, and cook on low for about 40 minutes.
- Your oven will be freed up so I suggest roasting a whole bunch of veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper to have one the side. Alternatively, cauliflower rice or white rice is good with this too!
- Serve with yo veg/rice and feel free to garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.