Put this recipe together a while back, but I just saw the thread on 'thickening a curry' so I thought this could be helpful to some.
For a simple chicken curry, there are just a handful of ingredients required - at least, that's how mum always did it, and seeing how she grew up in India, that's how we do it, too! Here (roughly) is what you need for a serving of up to four people:
1.4kg of chicken drumsticks and thighs (skinned and cleaned)
Two medium-to-large onions
One tin of chopped plum tomatoes
Four cloves of garlic
Green chillies (one if you like it mild, one and a half for medium, and two or more for hot)
Half an inch of ginger
One teaspoon of garam masala
One teaspoon of turmeric
One teaspoon of salt
Firstly, you'll need to make what mum refers to as a "thorka". I couldn't profess to know the origins of the term, but I do know that it refers to the base ingredients on which many Indian dishes are built. For the chicken curry, it involves every ingredient bar the chicken itself - think of it as the paste, or the sauce.
1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok or a large pan - you'll need enough room for the quantity of chicken going in at a later stage. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced onions.
2. Cook onions until well browned, and then add finely-diced chilli, ginger and garlic. Keep stirring as it can become quite dry at this stage (add a touch more oil if need be), and cook on a moderate heat for a further four-to-five minutes. At this point, you can identify a strong, flavourful curry by the aroma - you should find that the kick of the chilli is enough to warrant a touch of coughing, or a fit of coughing if you opted for two or more chillies.
3. Add salt, garam masala and turmeric. Stir for two-to-three minutes until you get a reduced, dry paste. You may find it starts to stick, but not to worry, here come the tomatoes.
4. Add the chopped plum tomatoes to the golden-looking paste, and you'll start to see the transformation into a tasty-looking curry sauce.
5. Allow the sauce to cook on a moderate heat for a further 2-3 minutes. That's the thorka complete, and if this is you first, have a taste to see how you like it. With its small base of ingredients, it's easy to modify next time around (try adjusting the amount of chilli, garlic and ginger to suit your taste).
6. Add the key ingredient, chicken. It's also worth noting that the thorka can be combined with other meats. A few subtle changes aside, the same base can ultimately be used to make a lamb curry, too. For those who don't like bones, chopped chicken breast is an option - though, we tend to find that the end result with breast meat can be a tad dry and less flavourful.
7. Stir the chicken into the thorka and cook on a high heat for five-to-ten minutes, stirring frequently but gently so as not to tear meat from the bone - and, importantly, so as not to splatter the turmeric-coloured sauce on the walls (it's a pain to clean!).
8. Add half a pint of boiling water, cover and allow to cook for 30-to-45 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. The quantity of water can be adjusted to create a "masala" or a "thari". A masala refers to a thick, creamy sauce (which I prefer), whilst a "thari" (pronounced thu-ree) is more gravy-like and thin. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add more water to create a thari. For a thicker sauce, remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce.
That's all there is to it. The chicken can be served with rice and garnished with coriander, but I prefer my mum's method of eating it with "roti" (also known as chapatti) and a serving of "dahi" (plain natural yoghurt). If you find it a little messy, the sauce can be served separately to the chicken. The finished article:
If you've chicken left over, put it in the fridge and it'll be just as good (if not better!) the next day.