Apple Chicken Curry

I know this one sounds like an odd combination, but somehow, innocent, autumnal kind of ingredients (apple, apple cider, cinnamon, white wine, dijon, golden raisins) come together to produce a curry that could stand up next to any other traditional chicken curry flavor-wise. And so today, we have apple chicken curry.

Apple Chicken Curry

I wanted to make chicken that somehow went with apples, but I had a tough time coming up with something that appealed to me. I wrote down a long list of things that I thought would go well with apple and then started whittling it down until there was a collection of things that seemed harmonious together. From there, I just took all of those ingredients out and just sort of went with it–since ginger and cardamom were involved, why not try to do something with some Indian flare to it? And so I started working in other Asian flavors, such as kasoori methi (a.k.a. fenugreek), and that is why this is also my entry for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anna of Anna’s Cool Finds.

I was kind of surprised at how “authentic” this tasted really–at the start, I was concerned that this dish might lead to ordering out for pizza instead (“apple and chicken” is an odd combination when you don’t have a plan…), but in the end, it actually tasted like it were an authentic curry. Well spiced chicken in a thick gravy with just the right balance of heat and acidity, tempered by a mellow creaminess that makes everybody play nice together. There was no weird conflict with the apple or any of those elements–it had the right body, the right heat, and the right flavors. I would definitely do it again, but next time, I’d like to explore ways that I could make the apple flavor more pronounced as it was a bit muted. The preparation style follows somewhat from what I’d learned in making butter chicken.

  • ~2 lbs chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • pinch of salt
  • ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 cloves
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6-10 peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 leek
  • 2 gala apples
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp kasoori methi (fenugreek)
  • Optional: walnuts for garnish

Brown the paste rubbed chicken

I didn’t quite go to the trouble of making a proper chicken tikka as I hadn’t planned on marinating the chicken, but the flavors are very similar. So to begin, simply trim any excess fat off of the chicken thighs and chop to medium sized pieces. Rub the chicken with garlic paste, ginger paste, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Rub this all over the chicken and brown in a hot pan with a bit of oil. Once browned on all sides (and cooked all the way through), set the chicken aside.

Gather the fresh ingredients and peel, dice, etc

While you’re waiting on the chicken to finish browning, prepare the fresh ingredients. Peel, core, and slice the apples, behead and halve the jalapeños, and dice and clean the pale part of the leek. Coarsely dice the garlic, shallot, and leek.

Sauté the garlic, shallot, leek, and peppers

In a pan with a bit of oil, sauté the shallot, and after 3 minutes or so, add in the garlic, and after another minute, add in the leeks. In another few minutes, toss in the jalapeños and keep things moving around. Within 10 minutes time total or so, this should come off of the heat. Don’t worry about how large the veggies are–they’ll be pureed later, so save yourself the trouble.

Heat up the dry, whole spices to get them toasted and fragrant

By now, the chicken should be done and out of the pan. So in its place, put in the whole dry spices to toast them a bit and coax them to release their flavors. Once they start to perfume the room, add in the cooked veggies.

Mix the cooked veggies, toasted spices, apples, and almost all of the rest of the ingredients

Also add in the apples, wine, vinegar, mustard, rosemary (don’t bother stripping the leaves off of the stem–easy removal later), and raisins. Get this simmering on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes.

Fish out the whole spices and puree the sauce Strain the sauce back into the pan on heat Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer

Once done simmering, fish out the rosemary and the whole spices. Then, carefully transfer this hot mixture into the food processor and puree well. Then, pour this through a strainer back into the hot pan and let it simmer some more. Add the chicken into the sauce.

Box full of methi (fenugreek)

We’re on the home stretch now. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes or so, and then, grab a good pinch of kasoori methi. This spice gives many curries that very distinctive “curry flavor” (curry powder is not what does that!). This spice is very potent, but also very delicate–if you were to add it in early on, the heat of cooking would annihilate every hint of its flavor. But adding it just at the end so it has but a moment to integrate with the sauce brings a peppery, anise-y bitterness that just brings everything together in a fantastic way. But given that aside, don’t add it just yet…

Add in the coconut milk and methi, stir, and simmer just a little bit more

So if you’ve tasted the curry sauce by now, it tastes kind of sharp and acidic–just not quite done. To balance that out, add in the coconut milk and stir–this makes things a bit creamier and takes that bite out of the sauce. Let this continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or so, and then, the grand finale: crumble in the methi and give it a stir. Turn off the heat and get your plate ready.

Apple Chicken Curry, served with yogurt rice

I served this curry with a side of yogurt rice, which paired quite nicely. I also topped the chicken off with a few more golden raisins and some crushed walnuts for texture and for keeping with the apple theme. Enjoy!

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9 Responses to “Apple Chicken Curry”

  1. Lydia Says:

    Chicken and apple are a wonderful combination (think Waldorf salad). I often shy away from recipes that have a ton of ingredients, but in this case the end product looks more than worth it!

  2. Anali Says:

    Yum! It sounds like a great combination to me and looks wonderful too!

  3. Meeta Says:

    Old combination or not – it sounds great. This sure does sound perfect for my tasebuds! Nice one Mike!

  4. mike Says:

    Lydia — thanks! And that’s true about the combo. Not sure why this particular combo just had me stuck for a long time. Apples just seem to be stuck as a dessert thing in my head *shrugs*

    Anali — thanks! :-)

    Meeta — thanks! All that was missing was an appropriate bread–some sort of apple-themed naan might have been a neat way to bring it all together.

  5. Anna Says:

    Mike, What a fabulous creation! I had no idea about kasoori methi, I’m going to put it on my list of things to try.

  6. Bubbles0 Says:

    I know where the apple dish was possibly thought up, from my original old favorite, chicken and apples, with raisens, over noodles! But yours looks better.

  7. Kalyn Says:

    Very nice photos of the process of making this, and it sounds tasty indeed.

  8. Laurie Constantino Says:

    Chicken and apples seems like a natural, but you sure have taken them out of the ordinary and turned them into something extraordinary. Great experiementing, Mike. Now I’m going to have chicken and apples on the brain all night!

  9. mike Says:

    Anna — thanks! Methi is one of those ingredients I was unaware of for a long time (until I happily discovered my local Indian grocery), but once you’ve had it, you just get that “aha! I’ve had this before!” kind of moments

    Bubbles — haha, I don’t know about better! Two completely different dishes, both good if I do say so myself 😉

    Kalyn – thanks! :-)

    Laurie — thanks! Its funny, the pairing seemed like it would fit, but I had such a difficult time actually articulating how it would work. But thanks, fortunately this was a successful experiment :-)

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