Curry Chicken and Chickpeas is traditional dish in Trinidad & Tobago. Madras curry powder provides the base of this bold and flavorful meal. Serve over rice or with roti bread to soak up every drop of gravy
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My parents are from Trinidad, so I grew up eating curry. A lot of it. I didn’t cook growing up, so as I prepared to move away from home in my early 20’s I had my mom teach me a few of my favorites. The very first recipe was Baked Homemade Mac and Cheese, which I make regularly to this day, and it’s a huge hit with my friends.
The second recipe was curry chicken which, I have to admit, I only make occasionally. While curry smells glorious while it’s cooking, curry is potent and the smell lingers in the kitchen for a long time. But when that craving hits, I give in and make Curry Chicken and Chickpeas
Oh, I love Curry Chicken and Chickpeas so much! All those warm spices and flavors perfume both the chicken and chickpeas. I always make sure to pour extra gravy on my rice so I can soak up every drop.
WHAT EXACTLY IS CURRY?
It may surprise you to learn that curry isn’t one spice…instead, it’s a combination of spices. Different brands have different combinations of spices, but they all include the same basic ingredients including Turmeric, Cumin and Fenugreek. You can find standard curry powder in the spice section of the grocery store. But according to my mom “that’s not the real thing”. We use Madras Curry Powder, which has quite a bit more heat, but there are still many brands of those. I always use brands found in Indian or Caribbean stores so it’s closest to what I’m accustomed to. If you’re making a dish for the first time using international ingredients, try to find an ethnic store that carries those ingredients. The staff will love to help you with your choices, and you never know what other unique things you might find.
KEYS TO THE PERFECT CURRY CHICKEN AND CHICKPEAS
You know those relatives, the no-filter relatives? We all love them, we all have them. A couple of years ago my aunts were visiting, and my mom suggested I make them Curry Chicken and Chickpeas. One bite in I hear: “it’s not bad, but you didn’t make it right…” So there’s that. But I love my version, so that’s really what matters.
- Season the raw chicken well. I use salt, pepper, minced onion and raw garlic, Dried Basil, Dried Oregano, and chopped fresh cilantro. I also use Green Seasoning, a flavorful mix of herbs and spices. Use your hands and massage the mixture into the chicken pieces, and then let it rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- The important first cooking step is to add oil and sugar to a heavy-bottomed skillet. I use Avocado Oil and Demerera Sugar, which is unrefined cane sugar. I heat the sugar until it’s a dark brown, but not burnt.
- While the sugar browns, I whisk water with Madras Curry Powder until it’s a thick-ish liquid. You don’t want it to be a paste, because it will seize when it hits the hot oil.
- Add the curry mixture to the oil, and stir for a few minutes to let the spices heat. Add the chicken, let it sit on each side for 2 minutes so it gets fully coated in the curry mixture. Then add the water, which will become the gorgeous gravy
I used to always make the chickpeas in a separate saucepan, but I finally realized that was just one more dish to clean. So I add chickpeas to the pan for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
ELIMINATING THE CURRY SCENT FROM YOUR KITCHEN
As I mentioned earlier, curry is potent, and the smell lingers. Really, no different than BBQ, fried onions, or other strong foods. When I cook curry, I shut the bedroom and bathroom doors before I even go into the kitchen. Then I prepare a simmering pot to help absorb the scent
- Bring a pot of water to a boil
- Add a small handful of Whole Cloves, plus 2 limes and/or lemons, quartered. This is a great use of citrus that’s on its last legs
- Reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for at least 2 hours. When the water level gets low, add more water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer
- When you’re done, run the garbage disposal with the citrus, which will freshen it as well. See, you kill 2 birds with one stone!
Even though I don’t make it very often, Curry Chicken and Chickpeas will always be in my Top 10 favorite recipes.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 4 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced
- 2 Tablespoons onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon green seasoning
- 3 Tablespoons Madras curry powder
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 Tablespoon pure cane sugar
- water (amount will depend on size of pan)
- 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
In a small bowl, add salt, pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, basil, and green seasoning and mix well.
Add chicken pieces to a large bowl. Add seasoning mixture and, using hands, massage into chicken. Set in fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove chicken from fridge 15 minutes before cooking
In heavy bottomed pan, add avocado oil and sugar. Heat over medium until sugar turns dark brown, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, in small bowl add curry powder and whisk in water. You want a thick liquid consistency, but not a paste
Add curry mixture to pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. If mixture starts to get dry, add 1-2 Tablespoons of water
Add chicken to pan, and cook for 1 minute. Flip chicken and cook for 1 more minute. Add enough water to come about halfway up chicken, and bring liquid to low boil. Cover, and reduce to simmer.
After 15 minutes, add garbanzo beans. You may need to turn up heat to bring back to low boil, then immediately reduce to simmer
Chicken will take 30-40 minutes to cook, depending on the size of the drumsticks. Turn chicken every 10 minutes.