- 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 14.5-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 dried arbol chiles, stems removed
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed, halved
- 2 medium red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt, preferably Greek style
- Generous pinch of garam masala
- Cooked basmati rice, for serving Chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
Toast the cumin: Heat the oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and stir; they should sizzle on contact, become fragrant and darken slightly.
Caramelize the onion: Immediately add the red onion and bay leaves to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is dark chestnut brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
Make the tomato base: While the onion is cooking, drain the juice from the can of tomatoes into a liquid measuring cup; set aside. Puree the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, chiles, turmeric and paprika in a food processor.
Saute the base: Add the tomato base to the onion mixture and cook, stirring, until thick and paste-like, 10 minutes. When the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pot, add the chicken and potatoes. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is opaque and the sauce clings to the meat and potatoes, about 5 minutes.
Simmer the curry: Add the honey to the reserved tomato juice, then add enough water to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid; pour into the pot. Season with salt to your liking and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and gently simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.
Adjust the seasoning: Gently stir the yogurt into the curry. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if necessary. Sprinkle with the garam masala and serve over rice. Top with cilantro.
Photograph by Coral Von Zumwalt