Today has been stressful. Yesterday was worse. Because of stupid but unavoidable things, in isolation fine, together brain stuffing. Delayed planes, trains and automobiles (yes, all three), a broken front door, mysteriously vanished side gate, and lots of other dull stuff. My brain was starting to tense, my heart was pounding and I was being taken away by fury, a red mist.
What a bloody nightmare, eh? What to do? Sort the essentials, ignore the rest, withdraw from the world for a bit, and think of curry.
Chicken curry to be precise, I don’t think you can beat it if it is made right. A nice plump chicken from a happy home, whatever cut you fancy, or the lot. I bought a small bird, brought it home and removed it from the carcass, which I will use soon for stock along with the chicken skin and wings. I removed the leg, thigh and breast, the legs I kept whole, the rest I diced chunkily, and added all of the meat to a creamy turmeric bath. I love fresh turmeric, but dried will do, added to yogurt and chilli, the colour and the possibilities lifted my spirits. I put it in the fridge and let it rest.
After a couple of hours, and I was starting to feel better, I sautéed some finely chopped onion in some coconut oil (any oil will do, I had that). It soothed me to see it gently sink into the oil and release its own tension. I gave it time and cooked it gently, until soft. Then I added ginger, garlic, and more fresh chilli. I toasted some spice, cardamom seeds, cloves and black pepper. I ground them until a powder, and added them to my onion mix.
Time to add the chicken and the marinade and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is white on all sides. Curry leaves, some water, a gentle simmer, stirring gently and waiting until the legs are so tender as to soothe (about 35 minutes). A squeeze of lemon, some fresh coriander. Done.
The process was medicinal. The results tender. The taste, divine. Ladies and gentlemen, make this chicken curry, and enjoy every bite. I did.
Note: a food processor is best if using fresh turmeric. You can grate it too, but watch your fingers. Turmeric really wants to turn them yellow.
Recipe: Cardamom & Turmeric Chicken Curry
Would serve 3, but lets say 2, or even 1 – makes a brilliant lunch the next day so save some for that
700g good chicken, skin removed (whatever cut you like, I favour thigh but breast and leg are good too)
25g fresh turmeric or 1 tbsp dried turmeric (make sure your spices are fresh, they quickly become tasteless)
1 red chilli
250ml natural greek yogurt (normal yogurt will work, I prefer the texture of Greek yogurt so use that)
1 tsp sea salt
10 cardamom pods, seeds removed and shells discarded
10 black peppercorns
2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 inch of ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1 red chilli (choose one based on how hot you like it – mild to insanity, I am in the middle somewhere)
about 15 fresh curry leaves (optional – nice if you can get them)
a handful of fresh coriander
juice of half a lemon
oil for frying
whatever you want to serve it with – I like basmati rice
Chop your chicken into dice. Leave the legs whole if using them (but do remove the skin).
Make the marinade. If using fresh turmeric, place it in your food processor with the sea salt and chilli. Pulse until fine, then add the yogurt and pulse again. The sea salt has the effect of a brine and seasons the meat.
Place the meat in the marinade and massage (using gloves or a plastic bag, turmeric wants to stain you so very much). Leave in the fridge for as long as you can, minimum an hour.
About an hour before you want to eat, gently sauté the onion in some oil of your choice (I used coconut oil but any light oil will do). While the onions are softening toast the spices in a dry frying pan over a medium – high heat for a couple of minutes, then grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar.
When the onions are soft, after about 10 minutes, add the garlic, ginger, chilli and spices. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken with all of the marinade. Cook gently, stirring occasionally and turning the legs if using them. When the chicken is white all over, add the water and curry leaves, stir through, and cook until the meat is tender and the sauce is reduced. 20 minutes should do it.
Season with salt to taste, if required, and finish with the lemon juice and fresh coriander.
Ready to serve, ideally with basmati rice, but however you like your curry is good, right?
Enjoy! And here is to better starts to the week, and a brilliant finish. Please?