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Yellow Curry Chicken & Kachumber Salad

Asma Khan

Lesson time 18 min

For the first time ever, Asma is making her family’s recipe with Middle Eastern and Persian roots. A recipe that has been cooked for generations, but never written down. She serves it with a refreshing cucumber and pomegranate salad.

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– This lesson, I’m gonna teach a very, very traditional family recipe. This is only made in my family. It’s called yellow curry. It’s a very light chicken in a yellow gravy. It has a very distinctive turmeric aroma. Nothing else smells like this. The origins of the yellow curry is actually from my grandmother’s side. So It’s my mother’s maternal side. When I was writing my first cookbook, I didn’t have the courage to put the recipe of the yellow curry purely because I actually don’t have it. Whoever I’ve asked has given me such random bits of information, including my mother. So just before I came on the show, I told her can you type out the recipe and send it to me? She wrote chicken, onion, garlic, ginger. I mean, what proportion, what am I supposed to do with it? No. So I have actually written this recipe, remembering my aunt. Her name was Chopachitsi. She was the great cook in my family and I remember her cooking and instructing someone else. So I just closed my eyes and I remembered her words. This recipe, I remember her verbally saying it. I’m excited but also a bit nervous because I know that everybody has an opinion in my family on this. So they’re gonna watch me and they’re gonna tell me that I didn’t do it quite right but as nobody, nobody could give me a full recipe, too bad, how sad, this is my take on it. And together with the yellow curry, I’m making a kachumber salad very bravely because my mother’s not here to check on me. My mother’s very, very, very fussy. Each piece has to be the same size as the other piece. I can’t be bothered. I’m fine with it. I’m just gonna eat it. So the kachumber salad, It’s just got a combination of cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, pomegranate, garnished with mint. Just lemon juice, salt, finished. I realize that let me be big hearted and share this family recipe because the women who can actually vocalize and say out these recipes are slowly dwindling. My mother’s the last one of that generation who actually knows this recipe and now all of you are gonna be able to cook it. I’m ready to start cooking. Here’s the chicken, which has now come to room temperature. I’ve got my yogurt there. I’m gonna use a combination of ghee and oil. This is done quite a lot in my family. Because the burning point of ghee and oil is different, when you combine the two, it doesn’t get smoky and it doesn’t start burning. And these are just housewives’ things. You try and get the flavor of the ghee with all the cost of actually cooking the whole thing in ghee. Then you’ve got the paste, garlic, ginger, I’ve got my onion paste. Then in the masala, interestingly, only turmeric. And I’ve got milk, which I still haven’t taken out of the fridge because I’m gonna leave it in there. It’s a very, very, very simple family recipe. Okay, I’m just going to now start with the oil before you add the ghee in. So It’s like an island of ghee floating on oil. It’s just lovely the aroma of the melted ghee in there. I’m gonna start the base. So I’m going to add the paste of the onions. The ginger paste. Garlic. Raw garlic is great but not at the gravy of a curry. So now I’m going to add just a little bit of turmeric. So turmeric and chilies. Then I’m gonna wait for a bit because I want the raw smell of the turmeric to go. And in with the yogurt. I’m lowering the heat a bit because I don’t want to risk the yogurt spitting. So I add some salt. I’m just gonna give it a little bit of time because I want to see the oil separating. I’m just gonna wait for a bit because that means that actually all the excess moisture has been cooked through. If I put a line through, It’s coming apart. This is the sign of a really good masala paste. Now I’m gonna start adding my chicken. And then I’m going to get the chicken in there. You’ve got to make sure that if there’s any liquid out, you don’t wanna put that in the gravy. So leave that liquid behind in the bowl. And now you’ve gotta coat. I had just boiled some water in advance. So you’ve got to just cover the chicken. It’s quite important to use a pot, which is flat. So don’t use the shape of a karahi or a wok because you’re gonna end up with a lot of water coming up on the top, and there’s a risk that any chicken that sits at the bottom is gonna start disintegrating, it gets stuck. You can see, it has this lovely marbled effect. And you need it to be boiling fully. You wanna make sure that every part of the pot is boiling. Put the lid on and lower it. And this is gonna cook. While the chicken is cooking, I’m gonna start preparing the kachumber salad. So cucumber, tomato. I’m just gonna get the red onion. I’m getting two because kind of not so sure if they’re okay. And I’ve got pomegranate, and then, of course, lemon, and chilies, and the mint. So here, everything is here. So this is the Indian local cucumber. I remember when we were kids, we used to say that there’s inside it. Is poison. It’s not really poison, It’s bitter. So we need to clean what we call the out of it. I’m not even sure whether It’s still true anymore but you’ve got to cut the tip of it, take this and keep rubbing it. No, It’s true, this one’s got it. So what you’re seeing is this white foam. This is the bitter stuff that comes out. And I remember the first time I did this in England. My husband was laughing so much. He was like, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m taking the poison out.” He said, “Who put the poison in there?” I was like, “It’s in there.” I had no clue. Of course, this is 30 years ago. So can you see the edge? Yeah, it smells like that poison but It’s not poison. It’s just a kind of liquid in there, which is bitter. Basically, I usually stop when It’s come out every side. Okay, now It’s done. So first of all, you bin this. You cut this bit off, okay? Because It’s got the bitterness in it. You throw it. Wash it again. Wash your hands. I’m just gonna take a little bit and try it to see that I managed to get all the… Yeah, no bitterness. Hey. We also don’t eat the skin. There’s nothing wrong with it. ‘Cause I have seen it being served with the skin on as well. My mom would not approve of this way that I’m cutting the cucumber because she would have cut them into perfect squares. We used to tease my mother and call it the kachumber, the royal curry that she used to make because she’s a princess where everything has to be perfect. My sister and I used to laugh at her a lot. So now I’m gonna cut the onions. What you don’t want is any onion that is very sharp. So very sharp white onions or brown onions because It’s quite a mellow salad. We serve this in my restaurant and people ask us not to add the onions in, which is fine but I do go and argue and tell them, add it. Okay, so I’m gonna add onions in. So now we’re gonna add the pomegranate. Now, I’m gonna show you something. Just look at it. It’s so amazing. I’m gonna turn this round and then I’m gonna beat it. It looks like a bloodbath in there. All the seeds have been loosened and very easy to take out. It’s just effortless now. This has all been shaken. There. All the pomegranate seeds are out and then I’m gonna add it. Just make sure you don’t put the juice in there. I’m just gonna add it in there. And now I’m just going to add some lemon juice and the chilies. I’m gonna put the chilies in first. Don’t cut it too fine because for those who are trying to avoid eating the chilies, like me, I don’t wanna eat the chilies, I wanna be able to see it. So I’m just going to add the lemon juice. Now I just have to add a bit of salt. So again, put less salt than you think. So what I’m doing is I’m not disturbing it because if I mix it now, all the waters are going to be released. I’m just letting the sauce sit on the top. Once the chicken has come out, then I’m gonna mix it because It’s gonna release the water. So put the salt, put everything and just leave it. And my salad is done. I’m just gonna taste some salt. Yeah. It’s fine. So now I’m gonna add the milk and then add. But I’m gonna put the heat off. I’m gonna put the heat off because I don’t want the milk to split. And actually here, you can really see why It’s called yellow curry because the spoon is quite yellow but this is definitely yellow. Yeah, it tastes like my mom’s yellow curry. Okay, so here is my yellow curry. So now I’m ready to now start plating things. So I’m gonna put some green chilies on top. Do not crack it because It’s got enough chilies on it. This is really purely decorative. So that’s there. So a bit of contrast. So now I can mix it. So leave the liquid behind. I think It’s enough. Just gonna put a sprig of mint in the middle. So here it is. My family recipe, the yellow curry and the salad, and I hope you enjoy it.

About the Instructor

Asma Khan, owner of famed London eatery Darjeeling Express and bestselling cookbook author of “Asma’s Indian Kitchen” teaches her favorite family recipes, inspired by her childhood in Kolkata, India. The chef, restaurateur, and activist is the first UK-based chef to be featured on Netflix’s Emmy-nominated Chef’s Table and, in 2019, was listed number 1 on Business Insider’s ranking of “100 Coolest People in Food and Drink”. Join Asma on a nostalgic culinary journey to explore the smells, flavors, and ingredients of her ancestral Bengali roots.

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