The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

June 13, 2012

Hard-to-find ingredients worth the search

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s not often that I urge people to hunt down hard-to-find ingredients. But sometimes it’s worth it. This is one of those times.

My goal was simple -- a rich, boldly seasoned chicken curry suitable for summer. In other words, I wanted all the deep, savory flavors of tender chicken bathed in a highly seasoned sauce, but in a form that I could slap on the grill and eat at an all-American barbecue.

Because that’s my one complaint about chicken curry -- it typically is something you make in a skillet at the stove. I don’t do a whole lot of that in the summer.

So I came up with this dish, which bathes boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a delicious curry marinade. The thighs then get tossed on the grill. Meanwhile, a bit of the marinade (which was reserved before the chicken was added) is blended with low-fat sour cream for a rich condiment to be dolloped on the chicken after it comes off the grill.

The result is a moist and richly flavored chicken curry that is as comfortable solo on a paper plate at a barbecue as it is on a plate of rice indoors.

But a note about those hard-to-find ingredients: Curry from scratch is so much better than a prepared blend of spices. The flavors are more robust and fresher. But while fresh turmeric and fresh curry leaves are far more common than even just a few years ago, plenty of people still will struggle to find them.

If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to open a jar and use a prepared blend. The result won’t be as intense, but it still will be delicious. Use 2 tablespoons of the powder as a substitute for the turmeric, curry leaves, cinnamon, cumin, peppercorns and coriander called for in this recipe.

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