Parsee Red Chicken Curry

5 to 10 red chili peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
3 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (may substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
3 cardamom pods
3/4-by-1/2-inch piece ginger root, peeled with a spoon and coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (see note)

Place the chili peppers, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cardamom, ginger, garlic and onion in a food processor. Pulse, scraping down sides as necessary, to form a paste (don't worry if it isn't smooth), adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water, if necessary. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add spice paste and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, turning once, until brown on both sides. Add the tomatoes and salt, to taste, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and reduce heat to medium-low so that bubbles just break surface. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into a piece of chicken should register 165 degrees).

Add the vinegar and garam masala. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

NOTE: Garam masala is an Indian spice mix sold in Asian markets or well-stocked supermarkets.

— Recipe adapted from "50 Great Curries of India," by Camellia Panjabi.

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