Spice up your dinner plans with our Vadouvan French-style curry chicken and cardamom-spiced rice, delivering a warm intensity and a natural sweetness.
Inspiration and History
This dish is inspired by my trip to the market in Parc Floral de Paris and the lovely spice vendor I befriended there.
Before this trip to Paris, I was unfamiliar with vadouvan. As a Canadian whose family is from the North of India, we do not traditionally cook or even know the ingredients and spice blends prevalent in other parts of India. I learned that vadouvan originated in the Southeastern city of Puducherry, which was colonized by France as early as 1674. Inspired by the taste of India’s southern tip, the French colonists recreated a milder version of curry flavors in the form of vadouvan. This spice blend includes mustard seeds, fenugreek, coriander, cardamom, curry leaves, and cloves combined with a jam of garlic and shallots.
Essential Spices for Vadouvan Curry Powder
- Curry leaves
- Fenugreek seeds
- Green cardamom pods
- Brown mustard seeds
- Red chili powder
Storage of Spices
The shelf-life of whole spices is up to 4 years, whereas the shelf-life for ground spices is up to 3 years. Be sure to verify that your spices are not expired. When storing your spices, store them in airtight containers in a cool dark place. This step will ensure that the spices stay fresh for the maximum time.
Toasting the Spices
The combination of vadouvan spices packs a ton of beautiful flavors. Toast the spices in a dry sauté pan at medium-low heat to enhance those flavors by releasing their natural oils. You may toast both ground spices and whole spices. Wait until the pan is hot, and then add the spices.
When they appear intensely aromatic, they are ready for use. The toasting process should only take 30 seconds to 1 minute. Be careful not to burn them. You do not want a burnt taste to appear in the dish. Note that ground spices are more prone to burning than whole spices.
While this recipe contains both ground and whole spices, you may opt for all whole spices in the amounts identified below. If you opt for turmeric root and whole nutmeg, use a microplane to produce fine grains. The technique of toasting the spices described above also rings true for toasting the green cardamom pods for the spiced rice.
Classic Indian Technique
In developing the vadouvan curry base, sauté the onions and garlic very slowly in butter on low heat. They should softly bubble but not burn. As you add the spices, they will turn into a fragrant jam of onions and garlic.
The purpose of this method is to draw the flavors out of the spices. This cooking process is slow and will take approximately 30-40 minutes before adding the chicken. Be patient with this process. Time is required to allow the flavors to develop.
If the spices begin to stick to the bottom of your pan, don’t worry. This result is expected. Stir intermittently throughout the cooking process but do not stir too much as this will prevent the onions from lightly caramelizing.
How to Adjust the Spice Level
We advise that you use two green chiles. However, this will create a soft and mild heat. If you prefer spicy curry dishes that will make you sweat, we sympathize! In this case, add two to four additional green chiles to add an extra kick.
Rinsing the Rice
For the cardamom-spiced rice, separate each grain of rice. To achieve this result, rinse the rice to remove the starch that coats each grain.
Rinse the rice by adding it to the pot, covering it with water, and moving it around the pot, which will produce cloudy white water. Then, drain the murky water from the rice. Repeat these steps 3-4 times or until the water is clear.
Still unsure of how to rinse the rice? Watch this video.
Reheating and Storage
Store leftover curry chicken in the fridge in an airtight container and consume it for up to three to four days. Store leftover cardamom rice in a separate airtight container and consume it for up to five days.
To reheat the rice, warm it in the microwave at 70% power for 1 minute. To reheat the curry chicken, warm it in a saucepan on the stovetop at medium heat for 5 minutes or until warm.
Visit your local liquor store and request a bottle featuring these characteristics to find the perfect pair.
- Color: red
- Notes: unripe cherry, pepper, white pepper, lilac, mushroom, and moss
- Geography: old world
- Structure: medium body, medium acidity
Purge your Fridge
You just finished devouring our vadouvan French-style curry chicken with cardamom-spiced rice. Although you will have used up the perishable ingredients except for some tomato paste, you likely purchased a range of spices that were not already staples in your pantry.
Accordingly, we are offering the following two recipes to help you continue to enjoy these new spices:
Vadouvan (French-style Curry) Chicken and Cardamom Spiced Rice
- 6 skinless chicken thighs cut in halves
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped (garnish)
Vadouvan Spice Blend
- 2 cups white basmati rice
- 3 cups water
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 2 tsps salt
- 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1. Prepare the Spices and Cut Vegetables
- Place curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, cumin, cardamom pods, brown mustard seeds, turmeric, nutmeg, red chili powder, cloves, and garlic powder into a mixing bowl.
- Place sauté pan on the stovetop at medium-low heat. Add spices and toast for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until intensely aromatic.
- Pour spices into an electric spice or coffee grinder. You may also use a mortar and pestle. Grind all ingredients.
- Dice onion, roughly chop garlic and cilantro, and thinly slice green chiles.
2. Clean and Cut the Chicken Thighs
- Clean the chicken thighs, remove the skin if they are not skinless, and cut each thigh in half.
- Set aside and allow them to warm to room temperature.
3. Develop the Curry Base
- Place a medium pot on the stovetop at medium-low heat.
- Add butter. Allow it to melt and softly bubble.
- Add onions and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir intermittently. Adjust the stovetop's heat to low if the onions and garlic cook too quickly or start to brown.
- Add Vadouvan and green chiles. Cook for 10 minutes. The mixture should become soft and jammy, and fragrant to the nose.
- Add tomato paste and sauté. Cook for 5 minutes.
4. Cook Chicken in Curry
- Add chicken and salt. Stir and generously coat with the mixture.
- Add water and wine. Ensure the chicken is just barely covered. Raise the heat on the stovetop to high heat.
- When the water begins to boil, cover the pot with its lid, turn the stovetop down to medium-low heat.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
5. Prepare the Cardamom Rice
- Place a pan on the stovetop at medium heat. Add cardamom pods. Lightly toast green cardamom pods for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Rinse the rice 3-4 times by covering it with water, then draining the water from it to remove some of the starch.
- Place a saucepan on the stovetop at high heat. Add rice, toasted cardamom pods, water, salt, and olive oil.
- Cover the saucepan with its lid and boil until most of the water evaporates. Reduce the stovetop to the lowest heat on the stovetop.
- Cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Remove cardamom pods.
6. Reduce the Curry
- Remove the cooked chicken from the pot and place it into a room-temperature bowl. Set aside.
- Raise the temperature on the stovetop to medium-high to high heat. Keep the pot uncovered. Softly boil the curry for 10-15 minutes to reduce the liquid.
- Stir in heavy cream and cilantro. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off the heat on the stovetop.
- Add cooked chicken back to the pot. Stir and coat the chicken with the curry.
7. Let's Plate
- Spoon rice into a bowl.
- Top rice with chicken and a spoonful of curry.
- Garnish chopped cilantro.
- Serve and enjoy.