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A good lunch gives a bored desk jobber something to look forward to. And nuking the office with a spice packed chicken curry? It warms my cantankerous heart. This one raised such a stink that it cleared the dead aired office, making the rest of the staff hungry and heading for the basement cafeteria.

Here’s Vij Family’s Chicken Curry from Vij’s Indian Cuisine. This one got so much attention coming out of the work microwave that I messaged Hanne at home and told her to quick take a picture before she finished her leftovers. Like most Indian recipes, it’s ingredient and step intensive. But it’s well worth the effort. Serves 4-6 or 2 dinners + 2 next day lunches.

1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups chopped onions
3-inch stick of cinnamon
3 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp garam masala (def. worth making your own from scratch)
1/2 tsp cayenne
3 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in
1 cup sour cream, stirred
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Have all the above set up, ready to go (your mise-en-place). If you’re a quick knife, it may not be necessary, but at least get your spices measured out in a cup (same cup, they all go in at the same time). If you have a large deep-bottomed pan, use it–the surface area will help cook your chicken faster. If not, a small pot will also work.

First you’ll prepare the masala:

  • Heat the oil on medium.
  • Add the onions and the cinnamon stick and sauté until the onions turn golden (5-8 minutes).
  • Add garlic and cook for another 4 minutes.
  • Add ginger, tomatoes and your spice mix (salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne). Cook for 5 minutes or until the oil separates.

Now in with the chicken:

  • Skin the chicken thighs and rinse them (you can do this while the masala cooks).
  • Add chicken to the masala, turning and coating the pieces well.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, until the chicken starts to brown.
  • Stir in the sour cream and water and increase the heat to medium-high.
  • Wait for a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked, being sure to stir the pot a few times.

And now the hard part. When your chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Fish out the cinnamon and let your food cool for 30 minutes or more. Yes, you’re hungry, but be patient. While we waited, Hanne made some jasmine rice to go with the dish.

Next, the annoying part. You need to remove the chicken from the pot and its meat from its bones before adding the meat back into the masala. I nearly skipped this step, but I stuck with the recipe. It’s either going to get messy now or messy while eating. Your call.

Before serving, heat it all up again on medium heat until it starts to simmer. Cut the heat, stir in cilantro, serve, pack leftovers for lunch, tease your coworkers.