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Chef Biju Thomas, the creative force behind the wildly flavorful South Indian–inspired cuisine at fast-casual Biju’s Little Curry Shop, has embarked upon his second act—this time as a retail maven—with the late-2017 launch of Biju’s Kerala Spices, which add heady fragrance and fiery flavor to everything they touch. Thomas packaged the line—including a chile lime finishing salt, a toasty garam masala, and an aromatic turmeric from his native Kerala—in wide-mouth metal cans (no tiny shaker holes!) to encourage home cooks to use them with abandon, as he does. Not a spice pro? No problem. Thomas’ collection of heat-and-serve simmer sauces (think: coconut curry, red curry, vindaloo, or tikka masala) and ready-to-eat snacks (toasted chickpeas and potato chips) will hit area Whole Foods Market shelves in early 2018.
Biju’s Madras Chicken Curry
This one-step, oven-cooked curry is incredibly easy to throw together. Feel free to make it up to two days before serving, as it tastes even better once the flavors have had a chance to meld together. It’s delicious served with rice or warm naan.
Serves about 6
11/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (5 medium Romas), cored and coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 to 4 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, stems coarsely chopped, leaves separated and set aside for garnish
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or legs
2 tablespoons Biju’s Madras Curry Spice Blend, plus more to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plain yogurt, for serving
Fresh lime wedges, for serving
Heat the oven to 375°F. Combine the tomatoes, onion, ginger, jalapeño, cilantro stems, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a coarse paste forms.
Put the chicken into a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Sprinkle the chicken with the spice blend, turning and rubbing the chicken pieces until evenly coated. (There is no need to season with salt and pepper at this point thanks to the salt and chiles in the spice blend.) Add the paste and gently mix to combine and coat the chicken. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven, and bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour.
(Alternatively, you can cook the curry in a slow cooker on low heat for 4 hours.)
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot; set aside. Set the pot over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced but still juicy, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce with more of the spice blend, if you like, or with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter (removing and discarding the skin, if you like), top the chicken with the sauce, and garnish with the cilantro leaves. Serve with yogurt and lime wedges for passing at the table.