Last night I made homemade chicken curry for dinner. It was delicious and a friend asked me for the recipe. Which for me, considering the way I cook, was hilarious!
I was also asked recently to supply scripts for an upcoming show that I’m Hosting, which elicited a very similar response.
Scripts?!!?! Recipes?!!?!? Really?!!?!? I’m an Improviser folks!!! And while I do perform scripted material on occasion and I like to read cookbooks for fun (yeah, I’m a weirdo, I know), when left to my own devices onstage or in the kitchen, I prefer to improvise!!!
Still, my friend asked and I thought it might be interesting to set down exactly how I actually went about preparing my fabulous curry, so here goes.
I cut up a couple of onions and threw them in a large, hot pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil to caramelize. Added a bunch of good Indian Curry Powder (from an Indian food store in Cambridge), some Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning (seasoned salt basically) and a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar. Then I roughly chopped about half a bulb (!) of fresh garlic and a couple pieces of candied ginger and threw those into the pan with the onions. I also added a splash of water to the pan.
While these were caramelizing on still high heat, I cubed a couple of chicken breasts. I was using partly thawed frozen chicken, which actually makes this easier. I then threw the cubed chicken into the pan with everything else and added a bunch more curry powder, more Tony Chachere’s, a few more splashes of balsamic vinegar and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Also some green herbs at hand. Dried cilantro, some dried fresh basil (from my Dad’s Garden). Also a little drizzle of Maple Praline Syrup for a hint of nutty sweetness.
I sautéed the chicken with everything else in the pan for a few minutes to sear the cubes. Occasionally adding a splash of water. Just enough to keep from burning anything and to make sure the spices coated everything evenly. I also added about half a stick of butter at this point.
To the pan I then added about a third of a 12 oz jar of peach salsa (a standard tomato/cilantro/onion type salsa, with peach) and about half a small container of Sour Cream. I really like to use yogurt for this sort of thing, but I work with what I have, and the sour cream was very nice. Before stirring it all together, I squeezed on a very generous amount of Rooster Sauce. If you’re not familiar, Rooster Sauce is a spicy Thai Chili, Garlic hot sauce that is a bright red color. Very tasty. Adjust this per your own tolerance for spiciness. I like it pretty hot!!!
At this point I turned the heat down to a medium low heat. Just enough to keep things simmering. I also added some water to thin out the sauce a little.
I had a small bag of frozen, but nice quality, oriental mixed veggies (broccoli, green beans, red pepper, water chestnuts, etc) that I now added to the pan. By adding these so late and using frozen veggies, I was able to minimize the amount of cooking they were subjected to and keep them fairly fresh and crunchy in the curry.
I let all this cook together, simmering, while I waited for the rice to finish cooking.
The rice I had started around the time I threw in the chicken. Tonight I used long grain jasmati rice, but I’m not too particular. To make the rice I usually add a little chicken bullion or if I have some handy (I make my own from scratch) some chicken stock. Also a sprinkle of curry powder and some dried basil.
When the rice was done, I scooped a generous amount of rice into a large bowl and served the chicken curry on top. Garnished with a little more fresh Rooster Sauce and yayyyyyy Tasty Chicken Curry!!!!!!!!
So there you have it, a look at how I cook! All this took about 45 minutes or an hour from start to finish, but there’s never any down time, so it actually goes by pretty quickly. At least it does if you enjoy cooking like I do.
If you want to make this, think of it as a guideline. There are certain things I like to keep around like curry powder, Tony Chachere’s and hot sauce. But basically, when I cook, I cook a little like a painter. I look at the palette of flavours available to me and I just have a feel for how they blend together. I open up the cupboards and the fridge and I see what’s I have and then go from there.
I rarely make exactly the same dish twice. I simply improvise on a theme.