This was the dinner I made last night after getting back from our exhausting ( but very exciting) weekend in New York City. It had to be something quick and comforting. All of us worked very hard on having fun, and as a result, arrived home feeling like the city had sucked the life out of us, body and soul.
Before we sadly said farewell to this beloved city, we took a stroll down Lexington Ave and Mid Town, to explore a Famous Spice shop my friend Bird had told me about. The shop is called Kalustyan’s and has been in existence since 1944.
It was a dreamy place and I got all tremble-y when I went inside. The aroma of spice hit me in the face and from then on, I was a lost woman. I wanted to buy everything, but my purse strings reigned me in pretty swiftly (with prices like $30 dollars for a 2 oz jar of sea salt from Hawaii!).
I ended up with spices and condiments that I knew I would absolutely use, like the one that laced our dinner last night. When you have a spice mix that dictates the flavor for you, there is very little work left. I love having spice mixes on hand for lots of reasons; they educate me as to what blends go well together, and they flavor the food when you have no energy to invent something new or have nothing fresh on hand.
I choose to use the package that read, French-Influenced South india Spice Mix. The ingredients included onion, fennel, garlic, turmeric, cardamom, mustard, fenugreek, thyme, curry leaf, rosemary, black pepper, red pepper, nutmeg and cloves! I would have been hard-pressed to put that lot together and grind it all in my trusty mortar and pestle.
Thanks to this combination, dinner turned out splendidly. The rest of the ingredients were locally sourced, including the potatoes, onions, celery and herbs.
You will need: 3 chicken fillets, 6 chicken thigh cutlets, 2 medium onions, 1 1/2 cups baby carrots, 2 celery ribs, including leaves, sliced, 2 tsp very hot curry powder (I used Vadouvan curry spice mix from India, see picture above), 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 fresh bay leaves, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tbs unsalted butter, 4 cups chicken broth (or 1 good quality vegetable bouillon cube with 4 cups water. see post on Rapunzel Bouillon cube in my pantry section for more info.), 2 tbs all-purpose flour, sea-salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, 2 lbs baby potatoes (red or white, or you can also use fingerling potatoes).
1 – Season chicken with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Put big saute pan or pot on high heat and add 2 tbs of oil and 1 tbs of butter. When it is hot sear the chicken on both sides in batches until it is all done. You will need to add more oil and butter as you go. Transfer browned meat to a plate.
2 – Turn heat down to medium and add onions, celery, and carrots to pan. Saute for 8 minutes before adding the thyme sprigs. Stir in the curry powder and flour until incorporated.
3 – Add the liquid (or bouillon and water), and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and bring everything to a simmer. Cover and cook on low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.
4 – While the chicken is cooking, put potatoes in pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until potatoes are soft, and cooked through. Keep warm. When curry is done, add the potatoes to the pot.
Serve in shallow bowls and pass sour cream, black pepper and cayenne pepper flakes if you like.