This delicious recipe is one that I’ve been making so long (and that is so easy) I could almost do it in my sleep. It’s perfect weeknight fare: By far the most challenging part is picking the meat off the rotisserie chicken you grabbed at the store on the way home. Or maybe stopping at the store is the hardest part.
Mark Bittman – whose Curried Scallops with Tomatoes recipe was the jumping-off point for this dish – opined in the headnote for a similar curry dish, “A blended curry powder is one of the original convenience foods, a venerable spice rub that can improve the flavor of almost anything.” Convenience food it may be, but its simplicity of use belies the complexity of its flavor. A good curry powder is profoundly aromatic. I love Sun brand Madras curry powder in this dish, because while it isn’t hot at all, its sweet smell is intoxicating. (I get mine at Cost Plus World Market, because I’ve never found it at Talin.) I add more heat with cayenne pepper, as noted in the recipe below – the amount depends on my mood and who else I’m feeding. Of course, you can use any curry powder you enjoy.
This dish is healthful, too. Nothing but chicken, rice, yogurt, vegetables, and spices. Lots of spices: I start with three tablespoons of curry powder, but often add more to taste, up to a full quarter cup.
Curry powder can contain from a half-dozen to fifteen or more individual spices, but the vast majority feature coriander seed, cumin, and turmeric. All three are considered to have antioxidant and other health properties, but turmeric is the most celebrated. The compound that creates that brilliant, finger-staining yellow hue is called curcumin (not to be confused with cumin), and its power as a folk cure has been backed up with studies showing it to fight heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It’s widely been called a superfood. Plus, it’s pretty and it tastes good. Score! (Want to get more turmeric into your diet? Lots of recipes here and here, plus a few more ideas here.)
But let’s face it: I don’t eat anything that doesn’t taste good, health qualities or no. This curry is warming, creamy, and flavorful. Rice bowls are always a hit in my house, simple and comforting but also just a little exotic, and this hits on all cylinders. Plus, if you start the rice on the stovetop first (the rice cooker is simpler but takes longer), you can have it on the table within 30 minutes of unwrapping your rotisserie chicken. (You can also start with about a pound of leftover cooked chicken. Want to start with raw chicken? You’ll get a chunkier but still great texture. Just cube, sprinkle with salt, saute in a little oil until just done, and carry on with the recipe.)
- 1 rotisserie chicken
- 3 tablespoons mild curry powder, such as Sun brand, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt, preferably not nonfat
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, optional
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus two tablespoons for garnish
- 4 cups cooked basmati rice
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, optional
- 1 lime, cut into wedges, optional
Start the rice before beginning on the chicken. There are many opinions on the best way to cook basmati rice. I use a 2:3 rice:water ratio and cook it on the white rice setting of my rice cooker, soaking for 20-30 minutes before starting the cooking cycle if I have time. Sometimes I throw in a little ghee, a small pinch of cinnamon, and/or a handful of almonds. For stovetop instructions, check out this post at The Kitchn.