Rain-Go-Away Curry

Early morning here in Washington, and the word of the day may have to be "galoshes." Rain has been falling for nearly 12 hours, and conditions are soggier than an Oreo cookie marinating in a glass of milk.

The idea of staying under the covers, hunkered down until the weather passes, sounds positively idyllic, but who am I kidding on a busy work day? I don't think a pot of tea will do the trick, either. Gloomy conditions call for stronger measures: After a day of dodging puddles, a steaming pot of chicken curry may be the answer.

Although I can't take credit for the recipe -- it comes from Indian culinary diva Madhur Jaffrey -- I feel like it's mine, as it's become one of my good-ole-reliables, dishes that I prepare over and again and which never fail me. I practically know the recipe by heart.

Unlike many curries in which coconut milk plays a prominent role, this one relies instead on the surprisingly binding qualities of cilantro, which also dominates with its brilliant green color and earthiness. The spicy-aromatic supporting cast includes cumin, coriander, chile pepper and best of all, a generous chunk of fresh ginger, which not only warms the belly but clears the sinuses (and perhaps, water-logged spirits).

Start to finish, this dish takes about 90 minutes, which gives the cook enough time to get out of wet clothes and pour a glass of wine. Serve over rice, and if at all possible, save some for the next day. Leftover curry is such a treat.

What's your favorite, tried-and-true dish to ward off gloomy weather? Share in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  October 6, 2006; 8:30 AM ET Chicken/Poultry , Hot Pot
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Sounds yummy!! Will definitely keep this on file. When the weather gets nasty, I also like the classic Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, especially when I'm single, and have nobody to offend with my breath.

Here's the recipe I use (Alton Brown's, but tweaked... he calls for 1/2 cup of oil, and it's just too much!)

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

1 whole chicken (broiler/fryer) cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
10 sprigs fresh thyme or 5 sprigs rosemary (can use a combo)
40 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 3 Tbsp tablespoons olive oil in a wide fry pan or skillet over high heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides. Remove from heat, add wine, broth, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for about 1 hour, then remove cover, and finish cooking (about 30 minutes... turn the heat up if the skin isn't getting crispy).

Remove chicken from the oven, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with crusty bread to spread with the sweet, soft garlic cloves... and the juices accumulated in the roasting pan are divine on mashed potatoes or rice.


Posted by: Divine Ms K, Arlington as of 10/16 | October 6, 2006 11:18 AM

Warm Chili is my treat during the rain!

Posted by: Caroline | October 6, 2006 11:27 AM

I will definitely try this one. I love how cilantro is used instead of coconut milk. A good substitute for the ones watching our waist size.

Posted by: Mona | October 6, 2006 11:47 AM

Can you use boneless chicken thighs for this recipe? Will that affect the cooking time?

Posted by: Amanda | October 6, 2006 11:53 AM

A great cold-weather dish is chicken and homemade egg noodles, served on top of mashed potatoes. (Can you tell I'm from Ohio?) My great-grandmother used to make them, and I'm looking for a good recipe.

Posted by: Chris | October 6, 2006 12:04 PM

I am making Butternut Squash Bisque .. what a wonderful smell and it will be so good in this cold and wet weather.....

Posted by: peapod | October 6, 2006 3:06 PM

I turn to soups in cold weather. One of my easy favorites is made with italian sausage and kale:

2-3 T olive oil
1 package of sweet or hot italian sausage (usually comes with 5 large links)
1 onion, yellow or white, chopped
2-3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bunch of kale, tough stems removed and torn into pieces (3-4 cups uncooked)
4 to 6 red potatoes, sliced into 1/4" slices
2 boxes of chicken broth (32oz each?)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup half-n-half or cream (optional)

Remove the sausages from their casings. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and saute the sausage, breaking it up into bite-size chunks, until no longer pink. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are soft. Add the chicken broth, kale, and potatoes. Simmer until the kale is wilted and the potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Add the half-n-half or cream. Remove from the heat and serve.

A great modification of this soup is to make it more of a stew. Instead of the potatoes, use two 15oz cans of white beans (drained and rinsed), halve the chicken broth, and omit the cream.

Posted by: Angie | October 6, 2006 3:29 PM

Here is the recipe for the Butternut Squash Bisque. Enjoy!

BUTTERNUT BISQUE

2-2 1/2 lbs. butternut squash
2 tbsp. butter
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
5-6 c. chicken stock (canned is okay)
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
Pinch each: nutmeg and ginger
Sour cream for garnish

Cube peeled butternut squash and potatoes and set aside. Melt the butter in a large soup pot; add the carrots, onion and celery; saute until soft. Stir the squash and potatoes into the vegetables. Add the stock; bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 40 minutes.

Add curry, nutmeg and ginger. Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Return to saucepan; add more stock if necessary to thin; salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream.

Posted by: peapod | October 6, 2006 4:27 PM

Kim - here's the chicken & mushroom sausage recipe I mentioned on the chat this week. It's adapted from a pheasant sausage recipe from Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book. I usually double or triple the recipe.

Chicken & Wild Mushroom Sausage
* 1/3 cup (about 1/2 oz) dried morels, porcini, or shitake mushrooms
* 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
* 1/4 lb chicken fat or pork back fat
* 2 Tbsp brandy
* 1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs - chervil, chives, or parsley
* 2 tsp chopped shallots
* 1 tsp kosher salt
* 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
* 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
* 1/2 tsp dried sage
* pinch of freshly grated nutmet
* pinch of ground cloves
Cover the mushrooms with hot water and soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain, and reserve the soaking liquid for stock or another use. Chop the mushrooms.
Grind the chicken and the fat through a 1/4 inch plate. You may want to grind twice if you want a finer texture.
In a large bowl, knead the ground meat and fat with the other ingredients until well blended. Stuff into casings and tie into 4 - to 5-inch links.
This will keep refrigerated for 3 days, or frozen for 2 months.

In playing around with this recipe, I like to go nuts on upping the sage and mushroom amounts.

Posted by: John | October 7, 2006 9:01 AM

This sounds great--except! We can't eat cilantro. Any suggestions for a replacement that would have the same properties and still work with the other flavors? Thanks.

Posted by: dieter'sgirlfriend | October 8, 2006 10:36 AM

Dieter's GF: you can almost always subsitute flat-leaf (Italian) parsely for cilantro.

Posted by: John | October 9, 2006 1:48 AM

To make the recipe a little healthier, I used boneless chicken breasts, and it was still great! I cut them into 1-2" chunks and browned them, just as the recipe called for. Then returned them to the sauce at the end. Didn't need to simmer that long though, since they were already cooked.

I also added a can of drained chickpeas to stretch it a little further.

I will double the chiles, garlic, and ginger for when I have a cold!

Posted by: CMO | October 9, 2006 10:42 AM

I made this for dinner tonight, and my family really enjoyed it. We skipped the hot peppers and the cayenne and the sauce still had plenty of flavor.

We were curious about the country of origin of this recipe--in many of her cookbooks Madhur Jaffrey tells where the recipe concept is from. This seemed almost more like a Southeast Asian recipe rather than Indian. Anybody know for sure?

Posted by: Sis | October 9, 2006 11:19 PM

Kim, I made this on Saturday (rainy, just like Friday) and it was out of this world! I forgot to get the chile so I used a big dollop of some kind of hot pepper paste in a tube, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. I thought it was tad salty, so I'll lighten up on that next time, but there will certainly be a next time. Thanks so much!!

Posted by: Pat | October 10, 2006 12:20 PM

I made the Chicken Curry on Friday. I doubled the recipe so it would last for 2 days or more. My stepson came up from the University and there wasn't enough left for a second day. Needless to say this was a hit. I will definitely make it again.
I didn't have a habanero and didn't want to go to the grocery so I picked one yellow hot from my garden. It is called a Sandia Hot Pepper I believe and is rather like a jalapeno in heat. Along with the cayenne the heat was perfect for us. Might have been able to double the fresh pepper.
I, too, loved the way the cilantro was used. I only have one other recipe that cooks the cilantro. It is a lamb curry from Nepal. Also yummy and popular in my family.

Posted by: Betty | October 10, 2006 3:22 PM

Kim, this sounds fantastic, but my roomie and I are trying to go veggie. Any similar suggestions or substitutions? Is ther enough going on here that fake meat works, or would that come out too weird?

Posted by: Karen | October 11, 2006 12:39 PM

I whipped up a batch of this curry last Saturday evening, a chilly one, and ideal venue for something warm. I added fresh, chopped tomatoes as a variation. I also used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It, too, was delicious! I served it with sides of Basmati rice and a lentil dish simmered with fresh veggies and cumin. As we love fresh cilantro in a dish, this was a big hit! I'll definitely make it again, and again. Thanks!

Posted by: Rebecca | October 12, 2006 11:54 AM

So I've decided to try to make curry, and i got a curry sauce from the store and I was wondering what is the best vegetables to go with golden curry?

Posted by: TheAwesomeMindy | October 31, 2006 8:52 AM

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