Sometimes the grocery store can be a surprising source of inspiration. A week ago, I was leafing through the flyer for the local Fresh Co, when a spread marking Diwali caught my eye. “Fresh methi 99 cents” it advertised. I was intrigued.
A quick Google search and I learned methi was another name for fenugreek, one of the dominant flavours in most curry powders. I had never cooked with fresh fenugreek and was eager to give it a try.
I decided on a dish featuring bone-in chicken thighs in a thick, spicy yogurt sauce. I was inspired by this recipe but, as usual, made some changes as I went along.
The recipe called for three green chiles. I had some green chiles in the freezer that I knew to be quite hot, so I pulled out two, scraped out the seeds and used them for the paste. But I started doubting my decision and added a pinch or two of red pepper flakes to the whole spices.
Also, despite having clearly written yogurt on my shopping list, I forgot to buy it. I did have some full fat sour cream (it was on sale, there was no low-fat, what can I say) and no desire to make a return trip to the grocery store.
Finally, the original recipe called for adding half the yogurt to the spices, removing the cooked chicken from the sauce, reducing the sauce until practically dry and then adding the remaining yogurt. I skipped this step. I wanted a lot of sauce.
It’s certainly not a quick weeknight curry, but it is worth the work and the wait. I will be keeping a look out for fresh methi at the grocery store and markets so I can make it again.
I served the chicken and sauce over plain brown rice, with roasted curried cauliflower as a side.
8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
25 mL (1-1/2 tbsp) vegetable oil
250 mL (1 cup) whole milk yogurt or sour cream
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2-3 green chiles
4 cm (2 inches) ginger, minced or grated
250 mL (1 cup) fresh fenugreek leaves
3 cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon (I broke this up)
2 mL (1/2 tsp) coriander seed
2 mL (1/2 tsp) fennel seed
a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
5 mL (1 tsp) ground tumeric
5 mL (1 tsp) chili powder
2 mL (1/2 tsp) mustard powder
1 mL (1/4 tsp) ground clove
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cumin
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
5 mL (1 tsp) salt
5 mL (1 tsp) sugar
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the ginger, garlic and chiles into a fine paste.
Heat vegetable oil in a dutch oven. Add whole spices.
When spices begin to pop, add onions and cook slowly until they are golden
Add ginger/garlic/chile paste and cook three to four minutes.
Add ground spices and combine well.
Turn heat down and cook until spices begin to release oils. Add a little water if necessary.
Remove pan from heat and blend in yogurt or sour cream.
Return to heat. Add fenugreek leaves and combine.
Add chicken thighs and coat with mixture.
Cover pan and cook on a gentle heat for 25 minutes, turning the chicken thighs once.