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Mumbai pan hustle: East is East Van chicken curry

A recent visit to Whole Foods had my sweetie and I both drooling over a take-home roasted chicken that had been rubbed with Tandoori spices. The smell was intoxicating, so home we went with it, starving. The skin was flavourful (and eaten first), but we both agreed, that the spices could have been stronger, and the meat itself was pretty flavourless. It also smelled a bit like dessert, possibly because the store also sells pre-roasted vanilla pepper chickens, too. Vanilla with chai: Good idea.  With Tandoori, not so much.

Still in want of a fiery, international meal to stave off dodgy weather, the next day I shredded the remaining chicken to make what I would call a speedy, bastardized curry. My family used to eat a lot of the real stuff, so having it makes me feel like a kid again. If I had an Indian grandma, she would frown upon this Mumbai pan-hustle, but then again, if I had an Indian grandma, I wouldn't have to make my own butter chicken, or dance in the kitchen to bhangra by myself. Speaking of funny, people who speak Tamil often ask me if I know that my name translates into curry.

The following recipe makes a curry that is warm and rich with flavour, but not too hot. Note that if you use a higher-fat yogurt like Greek or Balkan style, you might need to add extra spices. If you have a low spice tolerance, use less, or add more yogurt and chicken. Chunks of chicken breast can be pan-seared in a separate pan, and finished cooking in the sauce. Have fun!

East is East Van Chicken Kari
Serves 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Grapeseed or vegetable oil, for frying
1 medium onion, chopped (any colour will do)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup plain yogurt, whisked
salt to taste

Warm up a few tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions with a pinch of salt, stir, and sweat for a few minutes until soft and translucent.


Add garlic, ginger, and spices, then stir. Continue to heat for another minute or two, then add chicken. Stir to coat, add yogurt, and cook until heated through. Season to taste, and add water if you would like a thinner consistency.

Serve with rice, naan bread, or both.

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