Peanuts are used extensively in Maharashtrian cuisine & are a large part of the typical Maharashtrian diet. This particular dish is one of my personal favorites, tender pieces of chicken gently simmered in a lovely aromatic peanut & coconut based curry. YUM!
Needless to say, this curry is always a big hit with the kids but I know that most of my adult friends enjoy eating this dish just as much - if not more. It is easily one of my most requested dishes when I entertain.
Since I always happen to have peanuts on hand, I make this dish quite frequently. But just in case, you don’t happen to have peanuts – no worries, there is a very simple solution: peanut butter will work in a pinch! Whether you have creamy or chunky peanut butter, it doesn’t really matter. This a wonderful trick & no one will be the wiser ☺.
MURGH MOONGPHALI (Chicken Curry with Peanuts)
1½ lbs of boneless/skinless chicken, cut into 1.5” pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1.5” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
3-4 dried red chilies
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
6-8 fresh curry leaves
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp red chili powder, to taste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon powder
¼ tsp ground cardamom powder
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely powdered (or you can use ¼ to ½ cup peanut butter, to taste)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup coconut milk
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
2 tbsp roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely powdered for garnish
In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add 2 tbsp of the oil. When hot, add the onions. Stir and cook until translucent and lightly browned. Now add the ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a minute or two and then add the dried red chilies and curry leaves. Mix well and after another minute, add the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, paprika, red chili powder, ground cinnamon powder, ground cardamom powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper). Stir to combine, adding a little more oil if needed. Let cook for a few minutes and then add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat all the chicken evenly with the spices. Next add the tomatoes & tomato paste. If the dish looks a little too dry, add a little water. Mix well, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 6-8 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked all the way through. Do not overcook otherwise the chicken will become too tough. Stir in the powdered peanuts (or peanut butter) and the coconut milk. Let the curry cook for another 4-5 minutes, this will allow all the wonderful flavors to develop & come together. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and the coarsely powdered peanuts. Serve with fresh chapatis and fragrant Basmati rice.