Many years ago, in a time that seems more like a dream than reality, I lived in London for a spell. It was a fantastic time of my life. I had attended a summer session at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, home to such great actors as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Alan Rickman, and Sir Richard Attenborough.
That summer fueled a desire in me to really hit the pavements as an actor. Having lived in Los Angeles my whole life, London called to me for a change of venue. I was young. I was eager. I was a starving actor – literally.
Luckily, I became familiar with an area called Portobello Road, in Notting Hill. Yes, the same Notting Hill as the movie, which showed the street on the weekends, when it became a bustling outdoor flea/antique market. The Portobello Road I knew, was the place to get good quality kosher meats and fresh-from-the-farm vegetables for cheap.
I discovered this area when a Bangladeshi actor friend helped me rent a small room at Bangladesh Center. It was close to a Tube Station and was just a stone’s throw away from the market. The room was about $20 per week. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the lodging in such a great locale. I hung out with the other tenants and was immersed in their culture. It was there that I learned how to make curry. It was a hearty meal that could last for days, stretch the dollar (or the pound, as the case was), and satisfy a rumbling tummy.
Over the years, I’ve altered the recipe a bit and have made it my own. This is so easy to do with curry, since we never measured ingredients and changed it up, based on what fresh vegetables were available at the time. I always used chicken for my curry, but any protein should be fine. In London, I purchased drumsticks because they were inexpensive and flavorful. I would dump them into the stew with the skin and bone. Now I usually buy breast or thigh meat and cube it to make it easier to eat.
This has become one of my favorite comfort dishes. Not only does it remind me of my London days, but it is tasty and filling. It is a lovely choice for a cold day.
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3 tablespoons curry powder
- 3 tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1-2 fresh Indian green chilis, diced (optional – you can usually find these in an Indian market)
- 2 pounds chicken
- 1 onion, sliced in long pieces
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 small head of broccoli, chopped in small pieces (you want the broccoli to practically melt into the sauce)
- 4 cups water
- 2 large potatoes, cubed
- 4 eggs, boiled
- Place all the spices, chilis and oil into a pot and mix into a paste.
- Cook on medium heat until it starts to sizzle and you can feel the spices in your nose and the back of your throat.
- Add in chicken and stir until coated and the outside is seared.
- Add in onions and stir until they start to become glassy.
- Add in tomato, broccoli, and potatoes, stir until coated.
- Pour in the water until it just covers everything in the pot. Bring it to a boil.
- For fast curry, keep it boiling for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Do not cover it. Simmer until it reduces down to half (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally.
- If you have time to develop the flavors, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, uncover the pot and return the curry to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces to half, stirring occasionally.
- While the curry is being made, boil the eggs in a separate pot. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes. Deshell the eggs and put them in with the curry. I like to make small slits in the eggs so the sauce can get inside.
- Serve with rice.