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Curry Favor at Shamiana Restaurant

A South Asian culinary expedition in Kirkland, Washington.
Curry Shamiana Restaurant Kirkland

 

Chef Max Murowchick is as unique as the cuisine he creates at Shamiana Restaurant in Kirkland, Washington. The color of his skin and his bare head might initially seem out of place in a restaurant beloved by locals for its South Asian cuisine. In addition, his youthful energy belies his decades of experience working in the food industry. Yet, when you consider that a shamiana is a type of tent in India where family and friends are celebrated, and then watch him welcoming regulars and newcomers alike with warmth and enthusiasm, you can see that his spirit is a perfect fit for the food he serves.

Shamiana Restaurant has been catering to the local community with dishes inspired by “India and beyond” for twenty-three years. After several years working with the original owners, Chef Max took the helm and bought the restaurant. He says customers return, sometimes two or three times a week, for favorites like Major Grey’s Chicken and Keema Kabobs.

“Our cuisine is like a London curry house,” he said. “Our curries are rich, we use premium spices.”

Chef Max provides these rich favorites with familial hospitality. He also teaches cooking classes at the restaurant four times a year. By demonstrating how to create signature dishes served at Shamiana, he demystifies the cuisine, making it more accessible to more people.

In the spirit of making his food more accessible, he has allowed us to reprint Shamiana’s Kabuli Chicken Curry recipe. Everything on the ingredient list is readily available at local grocery stores. Most homes already have the source of heat for this curry – simple black pepper.

Chef Max says pepper is how South Asian cooks flavored their sauces before the Portuguese brought the chili plant back from South America. If more heat is needed, however, add cayenne, chili flakes, or for real heat, a pinch of habanero.

Chef Max says it’s also easy to create meat variations for this recipe. Simply make the sauce without chicken and then add it to any other meat, including fish. It’s gluten-free and can also be made vegetarian by subbing the meat with potatoes or chickpeas. Serve it alongside basmati rice or any version of pulao, a rice mixture that may include pistachios or almonds, raisins, green onions, and peas.

The flavors of this curry are well suited to amber ales, such as Alaskan Brewing’s Alt-style Amber. At the restaurant, we chose what local brewer Mac Rankin chooses when he frequents Shamiana, Mac and Jack’s African Amber.

 

SHAMIANA KABULI CHICKEN CURRY

Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons ginger, grated

3 medium ripe tomatoes

1 cup nonfat yogurt

¼ cup vegetable oil

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced

½ teaspoon mace

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons ground blanched almonds

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds

1 tablespoon kosher salt

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground

¼ - ⅓ cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

 

Directions:

Place garlic, ginger, tomatoes and yogurt in a food processor and run until mixture forms a smooth purée.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add puréed mixture and cook until sauce thickens and oil begins to separate, about 15 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring rapidly, about 5 minutes. Add mace, nutmeg, ground almonds, cardamom, cumin, coriander, fennel and salt. Mix well. Reduce heat, cover and cook 15 minutes until chicken is fully cooked.

Take off heat and stir in cream, black pepper, and coriander leaves. Reheat thoroughly and serve.