I will keep the chicken in this recipe for a model. You may replace it with anything you like.
This recipe is maybe a lot more practical for the cook that has no experience cooking Indian. I have made this a number of ways, but here is the best in my opinion especially if you want simple. It is based on a spice packet likely available from your local grocer's Asian aisle. To this, I add more spices and coconut milk. I guarantee that if you're skittish about eating Indian, this is a perfect introduction. Think of it as rice with a gravy so luscious that you'll want to don your swimming trunks and dive in head-first.
Because of the coconut milk, this curry is not "hot" (spicy). Neither is it "cold" (bland), but it is sweet like candy, warm and spicy like cinnamon baked goods and its aroma will make your house smell fantastic all day.
Ingredients of the curry packet are suitable for vegetarians and vegans: onions, sunflower oil, garlic, tomato paste, spices, ginger, salt, lemon juice. To this, my recipe adds more onion, garam masala (curry spices leaning toward cinnamon), cumin and tomato. This makes the somewhat harsh spice packet luscious and sweet, combined with the coconut milk, it becomes positively unctuous.
You don't have to add the chicken; you may substitute squash (kuddu), cauliflower (gobi) or other vegetable ingredients.
1. In a large sauce pan heated to medium, add some oil and the chopped onion. Salt onion a bit. Once the onions begin to clarify (turn translucent), add the can of crushed tomatoes and continue cooking.
2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of oil to heat to medium hot. Add the garam masala, ground cumin and the contents of the Kitchens of India spice packet. Bloom by stirring in the hot oil. Do not burn, 1-2 minutes. Stir in turmeric.
3. Add the spices to the large pan, cover and move to a back burner where you'll cook it on low for 15 minutes. Turn it off, when cooler, blend all of this into as fine a purée as possible. Return to pot. This is the curry.
4. (For chicken) In a large, hot skillet, add some oil, sautée the thighs seasoned with salt and pepper, starting skin-side down, 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side. Turn off. If dinner is far off, you'll need to refrigerate these.
One-half hour before serving...
5. Rewarm liquified spices in the big pot. Add the coconut milk. Heat chicken (or whatever you're serving) in its skillet. Ladle curry over and around the chicken. Cover and cook on low or simmer, some bubbles, but not many, for 30 minutes in the curry. You should have curry left over to use for adding to dish once served or saving for left-overs.
6. Serve over rice.
Left-overs are amazing as the curry continues to incorporate flavors in the refrigerator. The curry will keep a couple of days in the refrigerator, much longer in the freezer. Rice will keep a couple of days in the refrigerator. Warm in microwave one thigh, rice and curry for about 3 minutes.