Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Curry Club - Keralan Chicken
I wasn't really a lover of curry due to an unfortunate incident with a pigeon some twenty years ago (contact me direct if you're intrigued and want the gory details) but getting with Phill all those years ago has caused me to rethink my reluctance. Phill loves curry and as a result I now appreciate the finer points of a good Indian meal. I am concerned about the healthiness of these dishes and whilst a ghee filled curry from the local Indian may not be a way to treat your body as a temple, I do know that cooked from scratch at home, a curry can be wholesome and flavourful, and very satisfying. Plus it transports your house to somewhere far flung, exotic and vibrant. I also adore the accompaniments to a good Indian meal but that might be a blog for another day.
I am a fan of Anjum Anand's cookery because of the emphasis that she places on producing Indian food which is faithful to its origins, but is not swimming in oil. This recipe, Keralan chicken, is a tasty, vibrant looking curry which is easy to prepare and can be tempered to suit the palate of your diners. I am not one of these people who like to sweat buckets while eating curry, but I do expect it to have some punch. This heat is mostly dependent on how much coconut milk you add at the end. The good thing about this dish is that you can serve up for those who like curry with a kick, then add more coconut milk to the remainder for those who like it less hot. In other words, good for kids and their delicate taste buds.
A word about ingredients: Make sure your spices are fresh and use the best chicken you can afford. I used free range chicken breasts here which have been loitering in the freezer for a couple of months after being bought at a bargain price. Chicken thighs would be equally as good and you can often buy good quality chicken thighs at the price that you buy some horribly factory farmed, insipid tasting chicken breasts. I know times are tight (which is why you find me hovering around the 'chuck outs' in the supermarket, ready to stock my freezer with stuff that I would never be able to afford if it were full price) but to my mind there is no point in cooking with chicken if it does not taste like chicken.
Anyway, who put that soapbox there? This is a lovely recipe in my opinion and great with plain basmati rice and naan. I hope you decide to try it.
Keralan Chicken - from adapted from 'Indian Food Made Easy' by Anjum Anand.
20g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
7 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
salt to taste
750g chicken pieces, skinned and jointed
2 medium–large tomatoes, puréed (or half a tin of plum or cherry tomatoes)
coriander stalks (from coriander, used to garnish)
12 large curry leaves
150 - 200ml coconut milk
1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds or ground coriander
1½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
½ -1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste
finely chopped coriander to garnish
Using a blender, make a fine paste of the spice blend with the ginger, garlic and 100ml water.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick saucepan and fry the onion until brown, around 8–10 minutes. Stir in the spice paste and salt and cook over a moderate-high heat until completely reduced, then fry over a low heat for 1–2 minutes.
Add the chicken and lightly brown for 2 minutes, then add the curry leaves, tomatoes and 200ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Uncover – there should still be lots of gravy in the pan; boil off over a high heat while tossing the chicken in the reducing gravy. When you have 1cm of gravy left, stir in the coconut milk and a good splash of water for a creamy curry, then bring back to a gentle boil. Check and adjust the seasoning and chilli. Serve with unleavened rice bread, normal Indian breads or rice.