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Chicken Curry (Murgh Masala)
From Indian Regional Classics, by Julie Sahni

A Punjabi specialty from North India, this chicken curry is fragrant with cumin and cilantro. It is this distinctive aroma that is often associated with Indian food and that has captured the hearts and palates of people around the globe. This curry can also be made with other birds. Serve it with a rice dish or bread.


1 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces and skinned with skin
1-1/2 cups finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons grated or crushed fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, puréed
Coarse salt
1 cup water
2 teaspoons ground toasted cumin seeds or Garam Masala
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems


Heat a large heavy nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and sauté, turning until they lose their pink color and are seared, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic. Sauté, stirring, until the onion is lightly browned, about 8 minutes. It will brown unevenly, which is as it should be for the complex flavoring of the finished sauce. Add the paprika, red pepper, tomatoes, and salt to taste.

Pour the water over the chicken and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is very tender, about 30 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, increase the heat and boil rapidly, uncovered, until it reduces to the desired consistency (like a pasta sauce). Stir in the cumin and half of the cilantro and transfer to a warm serving dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and serve.

Yield: Serves 4

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