Ajoy Joshi’s Chicken Dhaniwal

Serves: 4

Ajoy Joshi is the genius behind Nilgiris, a bit of an Indian institution on the Lower North Shore of Sydney.

He also runs a smaller, quite intimate restaurant – Tellicherry – which serves wonderfully contemporary Indian cuisine. Small plate after small plate and even more wonderfully, completely BYO.

It is one of our favourite restaurants and a real treat on the few nights a week it is open.

Anyway, I recently hit the big 40 and Nat organised the best present of all: a long lunch (my favourite), Indian (my favourite) and 30 of my best friends (my favourites):

And she convinced Tellicherry to open especially for it!

As we left – after a cracking meal with cracking service – Mr Joshi gave me a copy of his cookbook (Regional Indian Cooking) – and the next night we did our first curry.

Hands down, it was one of the best curries we have cooked. (It reminded us of the amazing Christine Mansfield 100 Almond Curry.)

In the boy, Ajoy says: “I first tried this dish at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. I knew instantly that if I ever wrote a book, this recipe would definitely be in it.”

No question.

Enjoy!

(And here is to being 40. The new 30, right?)

Ingredients

1kg chicken thighs, cut into pieces
2 brown cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
3 whole cloves
5 green cardamom pods, crushed
2.5cm piece cinnamon stick
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Steamed Basmati Rice to serve

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine chicken, brown cardamom, turmeric and water. Place over a low heat, bring to simmer and cook until the chicken is almost tender, almost 20 minutes. Remove chicken from stock and set aside. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve.
  1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over a medium-low heat. Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Reheat oil remaining in pan over medium heat. Add cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, yogurt and garlic. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens: 10 – 15 minutes. Sauce may appear curdled at this stage, but will be fine after further cooking.
  3. Add chicken to sauce in pan and cook, stirring, until sauce coats chicken. Add 1/4 cup reserved stock and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through and tender: about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in fried onions, coriander and pepper. Serve immediately.

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