Thursday, 9 April 2009

Chicken and Spinach Curry

Curry recipes are infinitely 'tweak-able', different mixes of spices will give different flavours and intensities. Experiment to see what suits your taste.

As there are so many ingredients in this recipe I've indicated quantities - these are only a guide.

You'll need:

2 large onions
Sunflower oil
Fresh chillies (I prefer the green 'finger' chillies)
Fresh ginger
Chicken pieces - thighs are cheap and curry well - 4 breasts or 6 thighs
Spices - see below
Juice of half a lemon
1 bag of spinach
I block creamed coconut (optional)

  • Take a large pot, ideally one with a heavy bottom
  • Add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • When oil is hot add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Add one finely chopped onion straight away
  • Cook on a medium heat until the onion is starting to brown
  • Add the other onion finely chopped
  • Cook until the 2nd onion is browned and the first is very browned (this way you end up with 50% of the onion well-browned to give 'tarka' flavour to the dish while the other 50% is just browned for 'body')
  • Add garlic (5-6 cloves crushed), ginger (about a 'thumb'-sized piece peeled and finely chopped) and chopped green chillies (I'd add about 20 or even more - green chillies give flavour and are 'hot' in the stomach. not in the mouth. Red chilli powder gives that 'mouth' heat that some dislike - see later)
  • Cook until the garlic and ginger are done (about 5 minutes)
  • Chop the meat into pieces, smaller if you're going to dehydrate the curry, larger for more bite.
  • Add the meat to the onion mixture and lightly brown the meat. take off the heat and set aside.
Spice mixture / curry sauce
  • Using a different pan (a frying pan is ideal) gently heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil.
  • Add the spices
  • For example:
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli (cayenne) powder (see green chillies above)
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Half a teaspoon ground ginger
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of asafoetida - optional. Known as 'hing' in Urdu this pungent powder adds flavour and is supposed to reduce flatulence, I'm not convinced but I like the flavour
  • Add the spices to the oil and stir.
  • Fry the spices over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the juice of half a lemon, stir.
  • Add a small quantity of water and continue to fry gently until the oil comes out of the spices. (I use a pint glass of water and add small quantities, probably to a total of about 1/4 pint)
Add the spice sauce to the onion and meat mixture and return to the heat and fry the mixture until the meat is coated and fully browned.

Add more water to thicken the sauce and cook on a low heat or in the oven for 1 hour (oven is better).

If you wish to add the coconut break up the block into smaller pieces and add to the sauce. After about 20 minutes further cooking the pieces of coconut cream will have 'melted'. The coconut adds body to the sauce but it can 'smooth out' the chilli heat so you may want to add more at the spice mix / sauce stage.

After cooking the curry for about 2 hours taste and adjust the salt if necessary.

Add the leaf spinach, just plonk it on the top of the curry and return to the oven. After 20 minutes or so the spinach will have wilted and can be stirred into the curry.

Serve with pitta, chapattis, or rice.

This recipe freezes well and can be dehydrated

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