Creamy Cashew Chicken Curry
I forgot that I ran out of red chillies. As I rummaged through my pantry with creaky doors and my fridge, whose freezer door I must get fixed, I didn’t find much that would excite me. But the optimist that I was, I found this half-full packet of cashew nuts. And in a corner of the fridge, there was this small bowl of grated coconut and a couple of spoons of leftover coconut milk in its little carton. About a fourth of a cup. That was enough for me to hustle up a Sunday chicken curry. This time it was going to be a creamy cashew chicken curry.
I’d never made it before and simply winged it. It worked out great. A light yet rich curry, which is thick and luscious with hints of chilli and peppercorns. That was enough heat because it was meant to be a creamy curry. Mind you, there’s not a drop of cream in this one. That’s the magic of coconut and cashews. When they’re blended together, they make this thick, white, and fluffy paste that thickens the chicken curry and makes it rich in flavour. Who wouldn’t want a bowl of this one now?
Coconut and cashew nut paste
Creamy cashew chicken curry recipe
Chicken – 700 gm, on the bone
Onions – 2 medium sliced
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
Cloves – 5-6
Green chilli – 1 chopped
Coriander powder – 1.5 tsp
Garlic – 2 cloves – minced
Coriander leaves and stems – handful, separated
Coconut milk – 2 tbsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Cashew nuts – 1/4 cup
Peppercorns – 1 tsp crushed
Ghee or butter – 3 tsp (I mixed coconut oil and ghee)
Salt to taste
Marinade for chicken:
Plain yoghurt – 1/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chilli – 1 chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece chopped
Garam masala – 2 tsp
Lemon – juice of 1 lemon (don’t throw the peels away)
For the marinade pound the ginger, garlic, and green chilli in a mortar and pestle or blitz them in your mixer grinder. You could also finely chop them all instead.
In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients for the marinade along with the pounded chilli, ginger, and garlic. Toss the chicken in and coat all the pieces very well with the marinade. Tuck the lemon peels in as well. Cover and let this sit for a couple of hours or even better, overnight.
Just before you start cooking, in your blender blitz together the cashew nuts, coconut, and coconut milk to form a smooth yet thick paste. Don’t add any water.
Moving on to the cooking, heat the ghee or oil in a large cooking pot and add the cinnamon, cloves, and green chilli.
Once fragrant, add the sliced onions along with a touch of salt so they cook faster. This will take a while. Don’t add more oil to the pan and make it too greasy in case the onions look dry. Simply keep a cup of water with you and add a splash every now and then. The onions caramelize beautifully.
Once the onions are cooked and caramelized, add the garlic, peppercorn, coriander powder and coriander stems. Give it a good mix and cook for a minute.
Now add the chicken pieces along with the marinade. Mix well.
Add the coconut and cashew paste along with 2 cups of water. Add salt as well.
Bring it up to a boil and then simmer. Cook for 20 mins on low heat.
Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve with roti or rice.