I've posted probably two hundred or more recipes on the blog in the last 4+ years. I've made dozens more things that didn't make the cut because I truly do care about your tastebuds. Out of those couple hundred or so recipes there's been a few dozen show stoppers. Those all too rare restaurant quality moments. Whittling it down further you get to the "Oh my f*cking god this is good" meals, which also will invariably entail swooning and eyes rolling to the back of the head. The foodgasms if you will. Like that other kind of "gasm", some are better than others.
This recipe from the greatest Indian restaurant in North America, Vij's in Vancouver, B.C., falls squarely into the last category, a "how did you do that and would you do it again?" sort of eating experience. Out of the several hundred recipes I've posted, could this be "the one"? Well, if it isn't the one, it is definitely one of the two or three best things I've ever made, fully deserving of the bold face type. As soon as I had the first bite I couldn't wait to make it again for friends to knock them on their asses. It is phenomenally good, so incredibly deep and complex. Vij's cookbook is a source of inspiration that should be in every cook's library. Not only are the few things I've made from it as good as what you have in their mind blowing restaurant, but usually they are also incredibly easy. As far as ease of prep and cooking, this would fall into the "ridiculously simple" column. To give yourself or some very deserving friends a sensory thrill ride, you must make this....soon!!
***** ***** *****
Vij's Cilantro-Mint Chicken Curry
From "Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine"
2 cups cilantro, chopped
2/3 cup mint, chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
1/3 teaspoon asafoetida (you can find this in any Indian market, or some specialty grocers)
1 cup water
½ cup canola oil
1.5 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seed
3 tablespoons garlic , crushed
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt, stirred
3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in
3 cups basmati rice, cooked
Mix cilantro leaves and stems, mint, jalapeño peppers, onions, ginger, and asafoetida in a large bowl. Pour one third of this mixture into a blender with 1/3 cup of water. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat two more times with remaining cilantro-mint mixture and water. You should have a smooth green chutney. Set aside while you prepare curry.
Heat oil in a heavy, shallow pot (make sure it has a tight fitting lid) on medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add cumin and coriander seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 30 seconds (the cumin will actually sizzle, the coriander will just cook) Add garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir in the salt. Turn off the heat and after 2 to 3 minutes stir in the yogurt. Add chicken thighs and stir well. Turn the heat to medium, then cover and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove curry from the heat and cool about 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a bowl. Peel chicken off bones. The size of the chicken pieces doesn't matter but do not shred them. Discard the bones and stir chicken back into the curry. Stir in the cilantro mint chutney. About 15 minutes before serving bring curry to a boil on medium heat. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
Place 1/2 cup or so rice in a bowl and ladle chicken curry over the rice.
note: when you cook the cumin and coriander the oil will probably start to smoke very near the end. Assuming the smoke isn't rolling out of the pot, don't worry, it is just the spices cooking and you'll be turning off the heat soon. It adds a real lightly smoky character to the spice flavor.- bb
update: after just having some leftovers 2 days later, this is one of those meals that while still delicious doesn't improve the next day. It loses a bit of the über-fresh cilantro-mint punch. Like I said, still good, but not quite the impact.- bb