Chicken curries cooked on week days are generally based on routine recipes but this time my instincts landed on using few unusual exotic garam masala spices and adding Chinese sichuan peppers to Garam masala blend. Recently I got whole sichuan peppercorns from local Asian grocery store. In shape and fragrance they are similar to Indian spice called Tirphal. Have you ever tried chewing single raw sichuan pepper ? It is very unusual sensational experience that lasts for 15 minutes. I dropped one single sichuan pepper in my mouth, took first bite and instantly it kicked off strong tickling and numbing sensation. It made me very uncomfortable, also stimulated vomiting sensation. It is not spicy at all but it strongly affects tongue with weird multiple sensations. In order to calm down effect I ate teaspoon full ghee and coconut milk, drank cold water but no effect. It lasted around 15 minutes then slowly I felt better. This made me more curious about using Szechuan peppers in Indian cooking. Surprisingly when used in curries they change complete chemistry and bring addictive taste. (Read Note) I used mild dose so no deep tongue numbing effect but curry was aromatic. Now Sichuan peppercorns are part of my Garam masala pantry.Note: Curry cooked on 10th, Feb..published on 12th April.
- 2 lb - Chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes (whole chicken with bone in pieces is much better.)
- 2 large onions - finely chopped (3 heaped cups yield)
- 2 inch - Ginger piece crushed to coarse texture
- 7-8 Garlic cloves - crushed to coarse texture
- 1/2 cup - Fresh chopped cilantro
- 2 Tb.spoon cooking oil
- 2 inch long - Cinnamon
- 2 inch long - Bay leaf
- 1 Tb.spoon - Kashmiri or good red colored chili powder or grind 5-6 byadgi chillies with below given spice blend.
- 1 heaped T.spoon - corriander seeds
- 1 heaped T.spoon - fennel seeds
- 1 T.spoon - Cumin
- 8 cloves
- 1/2 star anise - 3-4 petals
- 5-6 Kabab chini
- 5-6 Nagkeshar
- 12-15 whole sichuan peppercorns (you can add few more for strong kick)
[T.spoon = teaspoon]
Outer ring - Fennel seeds, corraider seeds, cumin seeds
Inner ring - Nagkeshar, Kabab chini, Star anise, cloves.
Center-from top - Sichuan peppers, bay leaf, cinnamon stick.
Method for preparing Curry :
- Marinate chicken lightly with salt. Cover and keep it aside.
- Combine ginger and garlic - grind to dry coarse texture.
- Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a thick bottomed pot ( 3-4 quart size ) Drop in cinnamon stick and bay leaf, sizzle for 15-20 seconds. Add finely chopped onions in the pot, saute over medium heat until they get transparent and soft, about 8-9 minutes.
- Now add dry coarse mixture of fresh ginger and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes over medium low heat.
- Then add home ground Garam masala spice blend. (save 1 tsp for later stage) Mix well, saute for 2-3 minutes over medium low heat.
- Partly puree onion-spice mixture by using immersion blender, before blending move cinnamon stick and bay leaf to one side of the pot. In absence of immersion blender scoop out half onion-spice mixture and grind to fine paste, add it back to the pot.
- Now add salt marinated chicken pieces, red chilli powder, salt. Combine well, turn the heat to medium low, cover with lid and allow to cook for 8-9 minutes. Make sure pot has enough steam water generated and meat is not sticking to the bottom, stir occasionally.
- Sprinkle in reserved one tsp spice blend mixture, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust salt level. I kept thick gravy but if you wish to have more gravy then at this point add 1 cup water. Cover with lid and continue to simmer over medium heat for another 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Lower down heat to low, remove lid, continue simmering for 7-8 minutes. Shut off the heat. Add remaining chopped cilantro. Let curry rest for few hours before serving warm with rice or roti.
Note : I used sichuan peppers for the first time so added only 15 peppercorns. It brought mild aroma and taste. You can add 10-12 more for deeper effect that means you will be getting after taste sensation mostly on the tip of your tongue for few hours. You may not like to eat raw sichuan peppers but relishing sichuan pepper infused curries is very different experience. Peppercorns are powdered and roasted while cooking also combination of onion+Garam masala further reduces intensity of szechuan peppers. In my observation when they are used in Chinese cooking with lot of whole red chilies and chili oil, intensity is felt stronger. Sichuan pepper infused chinese curries are very tasty and addictive.
This curry will taste better if you cook with whole chicken or red chicken meat pieces. You can expand your imaginations to cook various vegetarian and non-veg curries with sichuan peppers. I have cooked sweet and sour Baingan/Vangi/Eggplant subji, it was super delicious.
Images of Whole sichuan peppercorns, clusters and seeds of sichuan peppercorns.
Indian Chicken curry infused with chinese szechuan peppers.