Easy Bhindi Murgh Masala (Paleo Chicken & Okra Curry)
Okra never interested me much until recently.
I think it's because I only remember my dad using canned okra as a kid, and I wasn't a fan. And dealing with fresh okra seems fussy (though Richa at My Food Story has a nice post on how to prepare fresh okra so it's not so slimy and weird). But then I found frozen cut okra in the grocery store, sitting right there next to the broccoli. It had always been there, I just hadn't been paying attention.
Turns out, it's really good.
Bhindi murgh masala is a North Indian dish that basically means "okra chicken curry," so I'm pretty sure my stew falls in line with that vague description.
From what I've read, real-deal bhindi murgh masala uses fresh okra, which is fried before it's added to the stew (to avoid the mush). I just don't have time for that step (and frozen holds up okay!), so this is more of a quick and dirty curry that uses mostly pantry and frozen ingredients so it comes together very fast. Like, weeknight dinner fast. You can even substitute rotisserie chicken for fresh — which will cut the cooking time way down.
The basic, tangy, almost-creamy sauce in this recipe is also nice base for any curry — it's like the paleo equivalent of those jars of Indian simmer sauce that you can buy at the grocery store because it's almost as fast as opening that jar. If you want, you double or triple the sauce ingredients and save it in a jar just like simmer sauce for another day. (Look at you, Super Prepared Person!)
It's also a fantastic dish to make on a Sunday and pack for weekday lunches as it reheats well. That is, if you don't finish it all before Monday morning. :)
Easy Bhindi Murgh Masala
(Paleo Chicken & Okra Curry)
whole30, gluten-free, paleo recipe | serves 4-6
- 3-6 T ghee (or olive oil)
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1-2 Thai chili peppers, minced (remove the seeds if you're scurred it'll be too spicy—you can always at more heat later)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
- 1 T curry powder
- 1 (16 oz) can of tomatoes, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1.75 lb. boneless-skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 (16 oz.) bag frozen cut okra
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- Heat 3 T ghee in a large pot with a lid on medium-high. I use my Dutch oven.
- Add the onions and serrano and cook until the onions are translucent.
- Clear a small spot in the bottom of the pan and another tablespoon of ghee if the pan is dry. Put the garlic into that spot and fry until fragrant (just 30-60 seconds or so).
- Then put the ginger and curry powder into that spot and stir to mix.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the mixture into a food processor, immersion blender cup or regular blender and blend until smooth. Taste the sauce and adjust the spice levels if needed (maybe you like more cumin, some extra chili powder, etc).
- Heat a little more ghee in the pan, add the chicken (it helps if your pat it dry first), sprinkle with salt and pepper and try to get a nice golden color on the outside as you cook it for a couple of minutes.
- Carefully pour the sauce back into the pot and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked (or almost), about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the frozen okra to the pot and simmer (covered) for about another 8-10 minutes, until the okra is cooked but still has texture and color to it. Stir occasionally.
- Stir in the lemon juice and serve with fresh cilantro on top.
- If you're going to substitute rotisserie chicken, you can basically skip ahead from Step 6 to Step 9 and add it at the same time as the okra.
- Probably goes without saying, but cauliflower rice. Or regular rice, if you're not on the paleo train.
- Using curry powder is a major shortcut because I know not everyone has a spice drawer as ridiculously stocked as mine. But if you want to add some more depth, play around with making your own Indian masala (cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, chili powder, peppercorns, cinnamon, etc.). Don't be afraid to experiment—there's no right way or wrong way to make it.