100 Favorite Dishes 2013-2014: No. 39, Mum's Chicken Curry at the Queen Vic Pub
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus® issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape.
Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg Ain't nothing better than a hot curry on a cold day.
Before you go off on me about how I should be eating Indian food at an Indian restaurant, and how the Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen's curry isn't even real curry, I'd like to make one thing clear. It is real curry. It's real British curry.
There's a distinction between Indian curry and British-Indian curry, inspired by years of colonization and an influx of Indian people to England, particularly during the first half of the 20th century. It was during this time that dishes like Anglo-Indian vindaloo and chicken tikka masala were created at Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom.
It's the perfect hearty cold-weather food. A thick, ruddy sauce of stewed tomatoes, potatoes, green peas, chicken and spices clears the sinuses and warms the body from head to toe.
Served with a side of naan, rice and raita, this dish is plenty large enough for lunch or dinner.
British curry is an ideal blend of a chunky stew and a dynamic Indian dish, heavy on the cumin, coriander and turmeric. The chicken, marinated in a yogurt and citrus mix, is stewed until it's tender and falling apart in the pot, slowly taking on the flavors of all the spices surrounding it. The same thing happens to the potatoes, which soften and turn a dark reddish-orange, while the bright green peas provide pops of color as they swim in the thick sauce.
Like any curry at the Queen Vic, Mum's Chicken Curry is served with a side of delightfully plump and pliable naan, and a zingy raita (cucumber and yogurt sauce) that cools off the mouth in between bites of steaming stew.
Don't head off to the Queen Vic in search of chicken tikka masala just yet, though. Like I said, it's chicken tikka masala-esque, and unfortunately, it's available only on certain days. I'm told it's one of the most popular curry specials the chef creates, however, so chances are it'll reappear soon, especially if the weather keeps lending itself so well to a warm, soothing bowl of the good stuff.
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