30 January 2010

Harjinder's Chicken Curry

The other day, I stumbled upon the new cooking show from The Hairy Bikers. I find them quite entertaining, though I've not tried any of their recipes before. The cooking show is called "Mums Know Best" and I watched episode 3 entitled "Simple Suppers". One of the Mums that the Hairy Bikers visited was Harjinder from Manchester, who was amazing. I liked that she cooked in massive amounts and had a pretty fully stuffed fridge and was in awe, when she actually started cooking and just couldn't stop. It seemed that once she'd reached two-thirds into one dish, she just started another one.


One thing that she demonstrated and that was provided in her list of recipes, was the Chicken Curry that just looked lovely and also had the basic Tarka masala sauce that forms the basis for the majority of Punjabi cooking and which can be made in large batches and frozen in decent sized portions, only to have the meat of choice added to make up a quick meal.

I got all the ingredients together, the only thing I wanted to try and couldn't find in my local supermarket was ghee. So grape seed oil had to do. I also had shop-bought garam masala that had a lot more spices than Harjinder's, but looking at her list and the ingredients of the stuff I had, I got away with using just that pretty much.

However, I hadn't read through the recipe very thoroughly and got a few things in the wrong order. Some things I chose to ignore and so I'm writing down what I did, because the end result was well tasty.

I'd originally planned to treble the sauce and freeze for later, but decided against this at the last minute and a good thing too, because I don't have a big enough dish to cook it all in.


600 g waxy potatoes, like Vivaldi
1 dl grape seed oil
3 tsp ground cumin
2 largish onions
1 small head garlic
1 can (400 g) plum tomatoes
1 dl blended fresh root ginger
2 fresh green chillies
3 - 4 bay leaves
600 g chicken breasts
4.5 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp salt
2 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp hot red chilli flakes
3 tsp sweet paprika
0.5 l hot water
3 medium sized fresh tomatoes
1 dl chopped fresh coriander

  1. Wash and/or peel the vegetables as needed. Dice the potatoes and parboil for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

  2. Remove the hard stalk bits from the fresh tomatoes and cut a shallow cross at the bottom, then dip into the boiling potato water for a few seconds. Then peel the skin and dice.

  3. Chop the onions and garlic. Cut the chicken breasts in largish chunks. Chop the fresh chillies if you want hotter curry.

  4. If the canned tomatoes are whole, tear them up into pieces with a fork.

  5. Heat up the oil on high, then add the onion, garlic and cumin and fry for a few minutes until they go golden brown around the edges. Keep stirring occasionally.

  6. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 - 4 minutes.

  7. Add the ginger, fresh chillies and bay leaves and simmer for a further 3 - 4 minutes.

  8. Add the chicken and the spices and keep sirring until the meat has sealed/browned. Then turn the heat down to medium, add the hot water and the potatoes, then let simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.

  9. Add the fresh tomatoes and the coriander, stir in and simmer for a further 5 minutes, then serve.

In theory the potatoes could go in raw, but with the parboil, they went just a little mushy around the edges and thickened the dish into a stew. The texture was great as was the level of spicy heat - I added the fresh chillies whole. It could have benefited from broccoli both for colour and for taste, so that's a thing to add next time, because this is a definite repeat. Or skip the potatoes and serve with rice, should work as well.

Lundulph actually wanted turkey because he prefers the texture, but a month after Christmas in the UK, there isn't a single turkey to be found, so chicken had to do. He also liked the texture achieved with the parboiled potatoes, he said it reminded him of dishes with dhal - slightly watery, but yet with body, which he associates with Indian food.

We're now set for a week of chicken dishes, since I also made Thai green curry the other day.

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