Cashew Chicken CurryThursday, March 21, 2013 256 Comments Tweet
You know that pregnancy brain is a real thing right? When your body is investing so much energy in growing another human, your thinker is less sharp. That’s fair, I guess.
Short term memory, in particular, is affected. Poor Oliver is suffering the consequences – his life right now is feast or famine.
Either I forget I’ve already fed him and he gets second-breakfast (just like mommy!) – or his tummy starts audibly grumbling by 1 pm, when he starts pathetically pawing at his dish to let me know I’ve starved him, again. Poor furry guy.
I think I should use this short-term memory loss to work some humour into my life. Like, saran wrap my own toilet before I go for a walk. When I get back? Boy, will I be surprised!
We’ve been doing a lot of Indian food lately. I realize this is two curries in a row. Hope you don’t mind! The sweet little Indian baby in my belly is insisting on spicy food, and I’m happy to oblige.
This curry is my own creation. I took bits of what I like about a few different curries and made my own favourite. It’s got subtle cinnamon and cardamom* against tomato backdrop, like butter chicken. But the ground nuts are borrowed from two of my other favourites, malai kofta and shahi paneer. And I like a little bit of heat in all my curries, hence the jalapeno and cayenne.
I’ve made this one numerous times using almond butter (Almond Chicken Curry!), and it is amazing that way too. I do love it with cashews, but next time I would grind them to almost a paste (you can see in the photos that they’ve still got a lot of texture – still really good, but I think I’d prefer them finer).
I really love the creaminess imparted by the long-simmered nuts or nut butter – it’s a wonderful richness without being cloying or overly heavy.
Like with any curry, don’t rush it. Caramelize those onions. Simmer longer for deeper flavour. And season well with salt. I love this recipe, Indian hubby wholeheartedly approves, I think you will enjoy it, too.
*A note on the cardamom – I just toss the whole pods into the pot (gently cracked with the side of a knife), but you need to pick out the pods when you’re eating the curry. You can scoop out the seeds with the tip of a paring knife instead, or just use ground.
- 1 cup dry roasted cashews (salted or unsalted is fine) OR ½ cup almond butter
- ¼ cup ghee (or butter)
- 1 large onion, chopped (yielding about 1.5 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ jalapeño pepper, minced
- 3 tbsp garam masala
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- ¾ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 10 whole green cardamom pods, cracked (or ¼ tsp ground cardamom)
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in rough 1½” pieces
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup cream (heavy or half & half), or full-fat plain yogurt
- Cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- In a large pot, melt ghee or butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until golden and caramelized, about 25 minutes (lower heat if browning quickly).
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, finely grind cashew nuts to about a cornmeal consistency. Set aside.
- When onions are soft and golden brown, add garlic and jalapeño; saute 1 minute. Add garam masala, cinnamon, pepper and salt and saute 1 minute more. Stir in cardamom pods and diced tomatoes, and cook until oil begins to shimmer on the surface, 3-5 minutes.
- Add chicken thighs, ground cashews and water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low, cover the pot and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
- Uncover the pot and increase the heat until the curry thickens to desired consistency (for me, this was another 15 minutes or so of cooking). Stir in cream or yogurt, then taste and add more salt until seasoning is right (you’ll know because the spices and tomato will taste vibrant, not dull or flat). Top with chopped cilantro.