Chicken curry is an obvious choice when assembling an Indian menu: it is often fairly simple, the subtle flavors of the poultry take Indian spice well, and it's generally a crowd pleaser. But obvious doesn't have to mean dull or predictable. In fact, chicken curry is a good place to show off carefully layered spices and a rich, voluptuous sauce. Raghavan Iyer's version in Indian Cooking Unfolded is a good template: He pairs fresh aromatics (onion, ginger, and garlic) with a robust, warm, spice blend similar to a Madras curry powder. Tomatoes and a little half-and-half round out the sauce. Once they're cooked together, a quick stint in the blender renders the mixture velvety and brilliantly orange—a fine coat for just-cooked-through chicken pieces.
Why I picked this recipe: I knew I wanted to cook a curry recipe this week, and this chicken version was just the ticket.
What worked: The bold spice and warm notes of Iyer's signature curry powder brought depth and interest to an otherwise basic curry. Be sure to take the time to prepare the blend yourself.
What didn't: I thought that the sauce was a little thick as written, and I ended up needing to add around 1/4 cup of water (or you could use broth) to thin it out.
Suggested tweaks: You could use another cut of chicken if you'd rather skip the boneless breasts. Bone-in meat will work as well but will take longer to cook. Iyer also suggests making the curry with pork or turkey, as well as tofu and/or potatoes for a vegetarian version.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.