I like to serve this with brown rice and any number of Indian pickles or relishes — preferably homemade.
3 medium red onions, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup canola oil
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
12 green cardamom pods, pounded in a mortar and pestle just to break open the shells
16 whole cloves
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
5 bay leaves
¼ tsp. white or black peppercorns
3 whole dried red chile peppers
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 cup plain yogurt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in small pieces
¾ cup hot water
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
Combine onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and process until finely minced.
Combine the oil, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and dried red peppers in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon stick unfurls and the spices brown lightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion mixture and salt. Cook until onion turns light brown. Add water, 1 tsp. at a time if onion starts sticking. Add ground coriander and cook 1 minute. Add 3 TBSP yogurt and cook until yogurt is entirely blended and the moisture has evaporated. Continue adding yogurt slowly until incorporated. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes. Add hot water and stir. Boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in garam masala and cook 2 minutes. Stir in cream, if using, and remove from heat. If you can, allow the dish to rest for 1 hour so the flavors can marry. Season with additional salt and a drizzle of cream, if desired.
From Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness.