Braised Chicken Curry with Yams

January 25, 2008 | Chuck
Braised Chicken Curry with Yams

After Hungry Bear made her Hawaiian marinated chicken last week, we still had three pounds of unused chicken thighs. I needed to figure out what to make with them before they went into the freezer, where they would be forgotten. We are really bad with frozen meat and don't plan ahead enough to thaw it out.

I had a craving for green chili chicken stew, but couldn't find a recipe to my liking. Hungry Bear loves sweet potatoes, so I made braised chicken curry with yams, which is based on a Ming Tsai recipe. I've been tweaking this curry over the years. The dish calls for orange-flesh sweet potatoes, a.k.a. garnet yams.

The biggest changes to the original recipe are the omission of the banana and adjustments to the curry powder. I think there is enough sweetness from the yams, so there's no need for the banana. I've also adjusted the amount of chicken stock and added peas for some color.

The key ingredient is the curry powder. Ming recommends this Madras curry powder, but I'm not a fan of this brand or other brands found in most supermarkets. They're not bad, but I prefer a hot curry powder mix that we picked up at Bombay Bazar, a local Indian market. My issue with the Madras curry powder may also stem from the quantity used in Ming's recipe, 1/3 cup or 5 tablespoons. That's way too much. And it doesn't have any heat. Okay, my definition of heat is a little lot skewed.

The modified braised chicken curry recipe is finally dialed into our tastes. It's easy to make and it's one-pot cooking. There's a nice balance of heat and sweet from the yams and peas. Served over rice, it's a very filling and satisfying dish. If you leave the sweet potatoes a little firm, they'll retain their shape and the curry will look nice and pretty. On the flip side, if you cook the yams a little longer, they'll get mushy and thicken the sauce. Either way, it's a great curry to try out.

Braised Chicken Curry with Yams

Braised Chicken Curry with Yams Recipe

SND Note: Bone-in, skinless chicken thighs can also be used for additional flavor. Braise the chicken thighs for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes. If you don't have access to a hot Indian curry powder, replace it with Madras curry powder and 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper.

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 tablespoons hot Indian curry powder
2 curry leaves or bay leaves
3-4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
3 large yams, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
2 cups frozen petite peas

1) Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken. Heat oil in large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken pieces and brown them well on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Don't skimp on this step; not only does it add color and flavor, it renders fat.

2) Remove the chicken and pour off excess fat, leaving enough to coat the pot. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and bay leaves. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits.

3) Add chicken thighs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until chicken is tender and pulls apart easily, about 30 minutes. Correct the seasonings to taste. Add yams and additional stock if necessary to just cover yams; cook through, about 20-30 minutes depending on their size. Add peas and heat through, about 1-2 minutes. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice.

Makes 6 servings

[Adapted from Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai]

[tags]curry, chicken, braised, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, thighs, asian, fusion[/tags]

19 Comments on “Braised Chicken Curry with Yams”

  1. Erin said:

    Yams and curry…be still my heart!

  2. Christine said:

    I was just thinking about this dish – my mom used to always make cà ri gà with yams – the sweetness in them are such a nice balance to the spice in the curry. Perhaps not traditional, she also put peas in it too. With some warm baguette, it’s the bomb!

    Have you tried blending your own curry? It’s actually quite easy and you can add as little or as much heat as you like.

  3. Cathie said:

    I was at a total loss for dinner tonight – but now I’m definitely making this! Looks fantastic.

  4. Chuck said:

    Erin, I’m glad you like it.

    Hi Christine. I like making homemade curry powder, but haven’t in a long time. I need to buy some bulk spices and grind it up, then I’ll have a stash of curry in the pantry.

    Cà ri gà is totally the bomb with a nice baguette. I think I would just add some lemongrass and you could call this cà ri gà.

    Cathie, let me know how it turns out.

  5. Cathie said:

    We loved it! Easy to make and very tasty! Also had enough left over for another dinner. Thanks for posting this one!

  6. JEP said:

    Beautiful colors & combination of shapes & textures in this dish!

  7. Chuck said:

    Cathie, yeah! I’m glad you like it.

    JEP, the brown and orange of the dish works really well with the look and feel of the site. I think I’m going to exclusively cook orange, brown meals from now on! Kidding of course.

  8. Miri said:

    I just wanted to come over a tell you that the Curry was a big hit! The kids hoovered it! I made it a tad milder because of the kids and added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in with the other spices.

    There’s nothing a nice curry can’t cure! I’ll be back for more great dishes!

  9. This is comfort in a bowl. It’s full of ingredients and flavors that I grew up with and that keeps me happy, warm and safe. Thanks you for this bit of nostalgia.

  10. kim said:

    thank you so much for sharing this recipe. i made it last night, am eating it for lunch now and will most likely eat it again for dinner later tonight! i found that after i added additional stock post-yam cooking, the spices needed to be adjusted once again. such a lovely dish! thank you for saving me from my “eating fruit from whole foods straight out of the container” dinner hell.


  11. erin said:

    woah. i just made this and it is spectacular. (though i subbed acorn squash for the sweet potatoes. it was too snowy to go to the grocery store!)

  12. Mary said:

    This was wonderful! I tend to order Indian food “mild” and using 3 Tbsp. of curry with 1/4 tsp. cayenne was perfect for my taste. Thanks for this helpful substitution for hot curry. I’ll now be following your site.

  13. Jeanine said:

    A quick question: When it says to add the yams and then cook until done, are you bringing it back to a simmer? Or a boil? Thanks–it sounds great!

  14. Chuck said:

    Hi Jeanine, just bring it back to a simmer and cook until the yams are the desired tenderness. I hope you like it!

  15. Michelle said:

    What an awesome dish! I had bookmarked this page a couple of months ago (and it was always my entry page when coming to your site). I *finally* got around to making it and now wish I hadn’t waited so long. This dish was absolutely fantastic. I can’t wait to have it for lunch (leftovers) nor can I wait to make it again. My yams were on the small side and we had some chunks of pumpkin in the fridge so I threw pumpkin in with the yams. Very tastey! Thanks!

  16. Rhonda said:

    My sister called me after she made this dish and told me i had to make it..she loved it!!..My sister and i are beginning cooks so we are not that great at cooking..but this recipe she said was easy!!

    I will be cooking this recipe tomorrow and can’t wait =]

  17. Roccova said:

    I have made this twice now. The first time I followed the recipe to a t. It turned out great. The second time I substituted some rabbits for the chicken. Yummy thanks for posting this.

  18. Danngyelle said:

    I made this Thursday for dinner needless to say that this was a hugh hit the favors was OUTSTANDING. I cooked it with coconut milk(14 oz can) and beef broth(using that same can to measure ) and water. I also marinated and seasoned my chicken thighs and legs over night in a curry paste.and whoa.This meal also brought me a night off from the kitchen duty.. I fried some pita bread and served a large green salad… This is one to keep the total time was not to bad after work dinner was done on the table by 7:00 pm with me getting home at 5:00 p.m Paired it with a few glasses of Chardonnay very good Using my favor rice Jasmine yummy to our tummies thank you


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