There is a scent that is so familiar that no matter where I am I feel like I’m home. The aromas of the spices mixing together in the air feels like your walking though a foreign spice market. Your nose tickles and you breath in to almost taste the food. The smell of my family’s chicken curry. The anticipation of eating my most favorite Indian dish is the same every time, as if I was a small child waiting for dinner time. It means home, it means family, it is nostalgia at its finest.
No matter who you are or how well you perfect this curry recipe, no one will ever make chicken curry like my dad. My mom originally taught my dad this recipe. My sister worried about ‘giving away all our family secrets’ – but to be honest, HE is the secret. Trust me I’ve made this recipe over and over and each time it changes, there is never a solid recipe here. I’m giving you all the best that I’ve got, but just know this disclaimer, you may never get to perfect my mom and dad’s chicken curry recipe.
Chicken Tarkari Fiji Style
This is my dad's most requested dish. Whenever we have family get togethers this is the first thing we ask for. The recipe below is SPICY, so if heat is not your thing, fall back on the dried red hot peppers.
For the blended wet masala mixture
For the blended masala
Blend together cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick (break into pieces before adding to blender), star anise, ginger, garlic, dry peppers and 1/2 cup of water. Blend until smooth, you may need to add a little more water if needed. (see note below about cleaning your blender)
For the curry
Heat oil in pot for about two minutes. Add a pinch of the cumin, mustard seed and fenugreek mixture. Once you start to hear the sizzle and the popping of the seeds, this indicates your oil is hot enough to add the onions.
Next, add the onions, mix and let sauté. Cover for a minute.
Next, add garlic, dry masala and cover. Let this mixture fry for one to two minutes, then add the wet blended masala mixture and let fry for 2-3 minutes, you will start to see little bubbles form.
After about two minutes add in chicken and tomatoes, give a thorough mix to combine spices and chicken. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes.
Ten minutes later, add 1/2 cup of water and potatoes along with salt to taste. I usually put in a 1,5 teaspoons of salt, however salt is to your liking. Cover and let cook.
Allow the curry to cook on medium/low for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in curry leaves when you have about 15 minutes left to cook.
To finish the dish, add cilantro to top. Serve with rice or roti!
One time, my cousin Shivani convinced me to squeeze lemon all over my chicken curry. I thought she was crazy but she was genius. I need to have freshly squeezed lemon with any chicken curry dish. I promise you, you won't regret it! - It also helps to spice/heat level.