Green chilli chicken kebabs

 

These chicken kebabs are so quick to make and are perfect summer food, easy to grill or barbecue and serve with flatbreads and salad.  To make them for four people, you will need:

500 grams of boneless chicken thigh 

half a red onion

3-4 green chillies

1 teaspoon of salt

half a tablespoon of cumin powder

half a teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of ginger, grated finely

1 teaspoon of garlic, crushed

Juice of half a lemon

bamboo or metal skewers

Blend all ingredients apart from the chicken in a food processor or small blender (the nutribullet is great for this) to make the marinade.

Trim fat from the chicken and chop into pieces around an inch square.  Mix in the marinade in well, then leave to sit in the fridge for as long as you have - overnight is best but even 20 minutes will do.

Thread the chicken onto skewers and grill or barbecue till done.

Serve with lots of fresh lemon.

Oil free chicken and potato curry

 

My love for Indian food is eternal, but I am constantly trying new ways of making old recipes healthier where I can.  I try not to use much oil in my everyday cooking, it is quite challenging as Indian food generally requires a good amount of fat; particularly for frying off onions and spices.

This chicken curry is cooked with a sauce of oven roasted tomatoes, onion and garlic, and turned out really well, with all the flavour I wanted and none of the calories.

For four people, you will need:

3 large tomatoes, quartered

1 large onion, quartered

2 cloves of garlic, without the skin removed

2 heaped teaspoons of my bottle masala (or any good, freshly made curry powder)

4-6 chicken drumsticks

3-4 potatoes in large pieces

a cup of chicken stock

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste, or use a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice

salt to taste (around a teaspoon unless the stock is very salty, then use less)

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

Pre heat oven to around 200 degrees celsius.  Place the cut up onion, tomatoes and garlic in a baking tray and roast for around 30 minutes.  If it is starting to dry up, add a little bit of water to the bottom of the tray and mix around.  Add the bottle masala, and mix up a bit more, then continue to roast for another 10-15 minutes - you should end up with the veggies being caramelised and brown at the edges, and very well cooked.  Remove tray from oven, squeeze out the garlic and discard the skins, let the mixture cool and blitz with a hand blender or in a food processor until you have a lovely thick spicy sauce.

Pour sauce into a large saucepan, heat, add the chicken drumsticks and potatoes, fry for a few minutes and then cover and cook for 40 minutes or so, slowly adding stock a little at a time.  At the end, taste for salt and add the sugar.  Add the tamarind paste, or a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice until the taste of the curry is balanced and slightly acidic.

Serve topped with fresh coriander if you like it, and hot white rice. 

Chicken and coconut curry

 

Of all my granny's recipes, this is probably the most famous and well loved.  When I was very young and living in Bombay, I remember her having her tea on the verandah of our flat, chairing often-heated discussions about the day's menu with her kitchen staff.  Chicken curry was always a favourite, served with pilau, mince cutlets and yellow potatoes.

Mornings would be spent grinding fresh masala and cracking open coconut, with fresh aromatic smells filling the house along with the sound of sizzling pots of frying onions.  Life seemed to be conducted and time pass in tune with the food the household cooked and ate.  If I made a 1000 chicken curries I could not recreate the anticipation and flavour of that delicious lunchtime meal.

To make your own version, you need to use my hand roasted and ground bottle masala, but if you don't have any try a very freshly ground good quality curry powder instead.  Or buy some of my masala.... really :). 

You can also replace chicken in this recipe with any meat, fish or seafood, and adjust cooking times to suit. 

For four people, you will need:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil 

1 red onion, finely chopped or grated (optional)

1-2 green chillies, sliced vertically down the middle 

2 cloves of garlic (optional)

1 heaped tablespoon of crushed ginger (optional)

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

500 grams of chicken pieces (try not to use breast - legs, thigh and tenderloin are ok)

2 heaped teaspoons of bottle masala

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

1 tin of coconut milk or cream

Stock or water

Fresh coriander to garnish 

Marinate the chicken in a mixture of the tomato paste, vinegar, bottle masala, salt and sugar for as long as you can (overnight is great but not essential - I often don't leave it to rest at all if I'm in a hurry).

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onions until brown and caramelised (10-15 minutes), add the curry leaf, green chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for another 2-3 minutes. All of these ingredients are optional, so if you don't have time to fry the onions, omit them. Ginger and garlic will add lots of flavour but you can also omit either one and use more of the other depending on the flavours you like best.  

Add in the chicken and as much marinade as you can scrape in, and fry for another minute or two.  

Slowly add half a cup of water or stock and cover and cook until the chicken is done (15-20 minutes for boneless, 40 minutes for legs or bone-in thighs is a good guesstimate), stirring occasionally.  When everything is cooked, add half to one cup of coconut milk or cream and taste for salt or sugar, then cook for 10 more minutes.  

Garnish with fresh coriander and you can also add a good squeeze of lemon juice before serving. 

 

 

Chicken and snow pea curry

 

This is a lovely light chicken curry made with spring onions, and no ginger and garlic. It's perfect when you don't fancy a heavy meal, but still want some chilli.... which for me is, always.

To serve four, you will need:

500 grams of chicken (I used thigh)

3-4 potatoes, cubed

large handful of snow peas

3 tablespoons of oil

8 spring onions, chopped and divided into white and green

1-2 green chillies

2 tomatoes, grated or finely chopped

1 tablespoon of bottle masala

half a teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of sugar

1 stock cube, crumbled up or a teaspoon of stock powder

1/4 cup of coconut milk

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste, or fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a large heavy based pot and add the white parts of the spring onions, stir-frying for a minute or so.  Add the green chilli, tomatoes and bottle masala, and fry for another few minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and it starts to smell aromatic. Add the salt, sugar and stock cube or powder, then add the chicken and fry for another minute or so.  Tip in the potatoes, add a little bit of water (1/4 to half a cup) and cover and cook for 20 minutes or so.  

After this, throw in the snow peas, stir in the coconut milk and tamarind paste (or lemon juice if you don't have any), top up with a bit more water to get the consistency of the gravy to your liking and taste for salt and sugar.  

Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the snow peas are done, and serve topped with fresh coriander and the green bits of the spring onion. 

Red chicken stir-fry

 

It is the middle of winter and I am living on spicy food in an attempt to warm up.  The colour and flavour of this lovely red stir-fry does a pretty good job of reminding me of summer, and it's easy to whip up with my Bombay Bottle Masala.  If you don't have yours yet, try and use another good fresh curry powder instead, or a combination of red chilli, turmeric and cumin powders.

To serve four you will need:

500 grams of chopped chicken (I used thigh fillet)

3 tablespoons of oil 

I red onion, finely chopped or grated

 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1-2 green chillies, chopped

1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds (optional)

2 tomatoes, finely chopped or grated

1 tablespoon of Bombay Bottle Masala

1 heaped teaspoon of hot paprika or kashmiri chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt 

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1 crumbled up stock cube

1 heaped tablespoon of tomato paste

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste (or squeeze in some lemon juice instead)

Start by heating a tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy based frying pan.  Add the chicken pieces - not all at once, brown them in batches and set aside.

In the same pan add the rest of the oil, then add the onion and start to brown, followed by the garlic, green chilli and cumin seeds if you are using them.  After 8-10 minutes, add the tomatoes, spice powders, salt, sugar and stock cube and stir-fry for a few minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and the whole mixture looks glossy.  Add the tomato paste and stir well, then tip in the chicken and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until done.

At the end, add a bit of tamarind paste or lemon juice and taste to ensure there is enough salt and sugar to balance the flavours.  Garnish with lots of fresh coriander leaves before serving. 

 

Wendy's pickle fowl

 

My friend Wendy Chaves from Bombay sent me this recipe for a traditional East Indian curry called Pickle Fowl... not one I've ever come across before or could find in any of my old recipe books.  

It is a very elegant precursor to the more modern British tradition of cooking curries with dried fruits and nuts, and let me tell you, it is one of the most delicious curries I have ever tasted in my life.  It is hot, sweet and sour all at once, and full of fresh ingredients. 

I can't recommend it highly enough.. stop what you are doing and cook it immediately!

To make a substantial curry for 6-8 people you will need:

1 kilo of boneless chicken thighs 

5-6 tablespoons of oil

6 small onions, very finely chopped or roughly blended

10-12 dried red chillies

1 pod of garlic (around 10-12 cloves)

2 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger

1/4 cup of white wine vinegar

100 grams of raw cashew nuts

50 grams of 'kishmish' (raisins)

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

First blend the raisins and the cashews until you have a thick paste and set aside.  Next, blend the red chillies, garlic and ginger in the white wine vinegar to a paste and set this aside as well.

Heat the oil in a large pot and gently fry the onions until they have turned a light brown.  Add the chicken pieces and brown them too.  

Add the chilli, ginger and garlic paste, stir fry for a couple of minutes until the oil starts to separate, add a small amount of water and the salt and cover and simmer until the chicken is nearly done (around 15 minutes for boneless chicken thigh pieces).  

After this, stir in the raisin and cashew paste, turn up the heat slightly and fry until the sauce reduces slightly and you end up with a bright red, thick gravy.

We added a few whole toasted cashews to the curry at the end, and ate much more of it than we intended.  It was totally amazing!  

I think it would taste great with duck, or even prawns ... so watch out for the next version. 

Thank you Wendy!



Chicken vindaloo from scratch

 

Vindaloo is truly a food of empire.  This famous curry is an adaptation of an old Portuguese dish called Carne de Vinho e alhos, which translates approximately into: meat cooked in wine vinegar and garlic.  While it is now much more famous for being the ‘hottest curry on the menu’ in most Indian restaurants, the original story and traditional recipe is much more interesting.

One of my favourite books, Curry: A tale of cooks and conquerors by the English Historian Lizzie Collingham, describes the history of vindaloo beautifully.  It tells the story of the chilli, which was brought to India by the Portuguese in the 15th century, along with their love of meat stews and extensive use of vinegar in cooking.   In Goa, Portuguese cooking mingled with that of the locals, using these ingredients and combining them with some of the aromatic spices from the trade routes on which their empire was built – cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom.

The British only discovered vindaloo when they invaded Goa in 1757, and were quickly taken with Indian food.  They were to have their own significant influence on Indian cooking over the next couple of hundred years, creating curries to their own tastes and further introducing other foreign ingredients like tomatoes and potatoes into Indian cooking. 

I love that you can almost trace the history of exploration and discovery of the modern world in a vindaloo recipe.  You can see how it has evolved from a European stew in the 1400s to an Indian curry full of Eastern spices that the British fell in love with and adopted as their own.  As Lizzie Collingham writes, these dishes “unite in their fiery sauces the culinary history of three continents: Europe, Asia and the Americas”.

Vindaloo also holds a special place in my own history.  As I delve into my old handwritten recipes, I see so many variations and personal touches added by family members through the ages. 

I have tried a few of these recipes and come up with my own adaption below, which I think best suited for our taste today – a moderate amount of vinegar and many, many fewer chillies.  For those that like it very hot, don’t panic, chilli can very easily be added to make it hotter. 

This recipe involves roasting and grinding the masala from scratch, but I will be taking orders to do it for you…. Making it a very, very easy and authentic curry to whip up.

Vindaloo masala (for one curry):

6 large dried red chillies

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of turmeric

2-3 cardamom pods

2 dried bay leaves

Stick of cinnamon

4 cloves

1 teaspoon of peppercorns

Lightly toast the chillies in a frying pan or in the oven and set aside.  Do the same for the cumin seeds, and the other dry spices.  When the spices have cooled down, add them, and a spoon of turmeric, to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (the thermomix does the best job), and grind until you have a fine powder.

Curry:

1 kilo of meat (use chicken, lamb or beef with bones.  Pork shoulder is also very good)

¼ cup of white wine vinegar

5 tablespoons of oil

Stalk of curry leaves (if you have them)

6-8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

3 green chillies, cut vertically down the middle

2 large tomatoes

1.5 teaspoons of sugar

1.5 teaspoons of salt

1 heaped tablespoon of tomato paste

Make a paste from the curry powder and vinegar and mix it with the meat in a large bowl.  Marinate overnight or at least for a few hours.

To make the curry, blend the tomatoes into a pulp and set aside.  Heat oil in a large pot and fry the curry leaves, garlic and green chillies, then add the tomato.  Tip in your marinated meat, fry for a minute or two, then add half a cup of water or stock and the salt and sugar. 

Turn heat down to low, cover and cook very slowly until the meat is falling apart (around 45 minutes for chicken legs, 2 hours for red meat or pork).  You want to cook it in as little water as possible, but keep checking, stirring and topping up to make sure it doesn’t burn or dry up.  When the meat is cooked, add a bit more water for gravy and stir in the tomato paste. 

Taste for salt and sugar before serving.. and if you like it hotter, you can stir in another green chilli or top up with some red chilli powder. 

 

 

 

Green masala chicken curry

 

This green masala chicken curry is about as tasty a curry as you can get.  Packed with fresh coriander and mint, coconut, lemon juice, ginger and garlic, it is a fresh and healthy take on a curry that is also good for you.  

Start by making the green chutney, if you can resist eating it all, keep cooking!  This is great with chicken but I'm thinking it would be really nice with prawns as well.

For the green chutney:

100 grams of fresh coriander

50 grams of fresh mint

3 green chillies

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 inch square of ginger, peeled

50 grams of dessicated coconut

1/2 a can of coconut cream (around 135 grams)

3 teaspoons of raw or brown sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

juice of half a lemon

For the chicken curry:

500 grams of boneless chicken – leg or thigh fillet is preferable

3 tablespoons of oil

3 spring onions, finely chopped

chicken stock or coconut milk

lemon juice

salt to taste

To make the green chutney, rinse and dry the herbs, and then blend them with roughly chopped garlic, ginger and green chillies, and all the other ingredients for the chutney until you get a fine green paste.  Set aside. Try not to eat it all.

To make the curry, heat oil in a large heavy based frying pan and fry the chicken in batches until it browns.  Set aside.  Wipe pan clean with a paper towel, heat another tablespoon of oil and add the spring onions.  Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the green chutney.  You don’t need to use the whole batch – I usually keep a small bowl aside to snack on and garnish the dish.  After another minute or two, add the cooked chicken and continue to stir-fry until it is cooked.

If you would prefer to have a stir-fry rather than a curry, you can finish off the dish at this point with a bit of salt and lemon juice to serve.  I have included a photo below of the curry at stir-fry stage. 

To make the gravy, slowly add half a cup of chicken stock or coconut milk (depending on your preference) and cook until chicken is done. At the end, taste and add salt and lemon juice as needed, and stir in another tablespoon or so of fresh chutney just to retain the lovely fresh colour and flavour of the coriander and mint.

Eat with hot white rice.  Yum!

 

 

Singapore chicken rice

 

My recent trip to Singapore brought back so many great memories of living there when I was very young, and almost all of them involve the smell and taste of very good food.  I have been obsessed with chicken rice since I got back and have been searching for a good recipe.  This one is a bit of a  mishmash of lots of different ones, as I have tried to simplify it for a weekday meal by using boneless chicken rather than cooking a whole one.  The one thing I haven't compromised on is fresh stock - you can use ready made stock but I never think it tastes the same. 

1 kg of chicken wings (for stock)

500 grams of chicken breast or tenderloin

1 cup of rice (uncooked) 

2 inches of ginger, crushed

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of olive oil

4 teaspoons of sesame oil

soy sauce

rice wine vinegar

chopped red chillies

spring onions

chinese greens 

Place chicken wings in a large pot, fill with water, bring to boil and then lower heat and cook for 1.5-2 hours.  This can be done the day before or ahead of time and makes a really nice stock, and you should end up with at least 4 cups of it.  When it is done, remove the chicken wings and strain it into another pan.  When the chicken wings cool, the meat should fall of the bone and you can use this meat either for the chicken rice or save it for something else (I saved it and used tenderloin for the chicken rice).

Place the raw tenderloins or breast in the strained stock, bring back to a boil for one minute, then turn off the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes or so until the chicken is just poached.  Remove chicken, it should be only just cooked, and set aside covered with foil.

To make the rice, heat a teaspoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and fry an inch of ginger and a clove of garlic, both finely crushed.  Don’t let it burn… stir quickly then add a cup of raw rice (rinsed) and stir again until it is coated with the oil.  Pour in 2 cups of the chicken stock, bring to a boil then turn down and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.  Keep tightly covered on the stove for a further 10 minutes until it is fully done.

To make the soup, heat the remaining stock and season with a couple more teaspoons of sesame oil, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a splash of soy sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste.

To make the ginger sauce, crush the remaining inch of ginger, place in a small bowl, add a tablespoon of soup, some sesame oil, half a teaspoon of sugar and salt to taste.  For the other condiments, use sambal and chopped red chillies mixed with spring onions and soy sauce. 

To assemble the meal, finely slice the poached chicken, serve a portion of rice on a plate and lay the chicken on top.  Serve with a small bowl of soup and all the condiments.  You can also steam some chinese greens for a minute or so, splashing some soy sauce and sesame oil and salt and pepper on top as you serve it.