Easy Indian meal (Set #9): Easy and delicious Chicken Stew 🍲

The best thing about Chicken stew, it’s a one pot dish; can be devoured with any sort of bread; rich in taste; plus easy to make.

One of the upsides of getting married was my mom-in-law’s cooking. She always made something special for us when we were visiting her home during the weekends. And on top of he specials’ list stood the Chicken Stew. I have had chicken stews before; in the Syrian Christian household in Kerala, appam and stew (chicken or mutton) is a favourite breakfast.

Chappati and chicken stew
Chappati and chicken stew

From the countless time I have had the stew before, I shortlisted the main problems which was usually the gravy being too thin and watery, potatoes not cooked properly, could use a bit more seasoning. Some people even decide to leave out the potatoes in the stew and that’s again a big no-no for me. It was never right and so I was always under the impression, that the chicken stew was a difficult dish to get right.

It looks so simple, no curry powders, the gravy is simple milky and translucent; only two main ingredients chicken and potatoes, but tastes like heaven. It’s like the no-makeup makeup look. Deceptive !! And then there was the star anise, which I think is the prettiest looking spice in the world and I saw it first in my mom-in-law’s chicken stew. We didn’t stock star anise at my home and seeing this pretty star shaped wonder merely added to the magic and love for this amazing concoction.

My mon-in-law sensed my greedy love for the chicken stew. “You can make it too, it’s quite simple.” she said. “I am not sure, I replied.” Then she took me through the cooking process once; it really was simple, in fact the simplest of the chicken gravy dishes to make.

That’s it for my history with the chicken stew; my mom-in-law passed away in 2008. Each time I make this dish, I recall the countless number of times, I have eaten this in her home.

Let’s walk through the process. I am a lazy cook and once I learnt the right way, I tweaked it a little to make it more easier. The carrot is a new addition to the stew, I like it because together with the green curry leaves, it is visually appealing with the bursts of bright orange in amidst the pale white gravy. The core ingredients are shown below; but one item is missing. You can’t make the stew without it…I have included it with the whole spices in the next photo – it’s the ginger !! As mom-in-law used to say “Bone-in and small pieces of chicken are best for the stew than boneless.” So I stick to that.

Small bone-in pieces of chicken, potato, carrot, onion, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves - ingredients for the chicken stew
Small bone-in pieces of chicken, potato, carrot, onion, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves – ingredients for the chicken stew

The good part about the spices in the stew is that, they needn’t be dry roasted or ground. Just simply add them to the hot oil as whole and you are good to go.

Spices for the stew - cinnamon, cloves, whole black pepper, bay leaf and star anise. Ginger that I missed in the above photo
Spices for the stew – cinnamon, cloves, whole black pepper, bay leaf and star anise. Ginger that I missed in the above photo

Heat the oil in a kadai and add the spices first. Followed by thinly sliced ginger and garlic. Next in is the onion, again sliced thin. After the onions become translucent (not brown, else the stew will loose the colour) add the greens – green chillies and curry leaves (spare a few leaves for the final garnish). After this goes in the diced potatoes and carrots. Add salt, black pepper powder and a pinch of garam masala for seasoning. Now the wafting aroma will inform the whole house that you are making chicken stew😋. Last in are the chicken pieces.

Spices, ginger, garlic and onions in the kadai
After adding green chillies and curry leaves
After adding green chillies and curry leaves
Potatoes and carrots
Potatoes and carrots
Chicken pieces and seasoning
Chicken pieces and seasoning

After this, it is advisable to add the second (thin) milk extracted from grated coconut and let the chicken and potatoes cook in the thin coconut milk. And here to make it easier for me, I add a little bit of boiled water. If you add too much you will make the gravy watery and dilute the taste. The water is needed for the potatoes to cook; the chicken will release its own juices, so after a while, the liquid in the kadai will double up in quantity. So adding boiled water is the tricky part !! Adding the thin coconut milk is the best way to go, the latter is only a shortcut.

Once the potatoes and chicken are cooked through, add the first (thick) coconut milk and switch off the flame. Extracting milk from gated coconut is a tedious process; I choose to go with the Maggie coconut powder mixed with warm water to achieve the same effect. Works for me !! Garnish with the left over curry leaves, check for seasoning – salt and  black pepper. And the Chicken Stew is ready 😘.

Chicken stew
Chicken stew

It is good with just plain bread, enjoy !!

Till next post, take care !!


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