Ajoy Joshi’s Rich Chicken Curry

Serves: 4 – 6

I can’t tell if Ajoy Josh is having a laugh at our expense.

The techniques and ingredients he uses are not only different to other Indian recipes, each of this recipes are different.

The deep goldening of onions and the use of yoghurt marinades being two rare exceptions.

This recipe was true to Ajoy’s trick of throwing curve balls. The ground sesame seeds. The squeeze of lemon at the end.

And yet in true Ajoy style, it is absolutely beautiful.

Total luxury.

If Ajoy Joshi is having a laugh, good for him.

Note: I have slightly adjusted this recipe.

Ingredients

1kg chicken thighs, cut into 3cm pieces

1/2 c vegetable oil
3 onions, sliced
Juice of 1 – 2 lemons

For the marinade

2 c full-fat natural yoghurt
1 tsp crushed fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp crushed green chillies
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 tbsp white sesame seeds, ground
50gm cashew nuts, roasted and ground
Salt

For the spice mix

1 tsp cassia buds*
2 green cardamom pods
4 cloves
1/2 tsp black cumin seeds

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients for the marinade in a large shallow dish and mix together. Season with salt. Add the chicken and turn to coat, then cover allow to marinate in the refridgerator for 1 – 2 hours.
  2. To make the spice mix, put all the spices in a spice grinder, small food processor or mortar and pestle and grind together. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over medium heat, add the sliced onions and saute until the onions turn golden brown. Add the marinated chicken and stir well. Cook for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the freshly crushed spices and sprinkle over the lemon juice.

* I substituted a cinnamon stick.

Sylvia Fountaine’s Lemongrass Chicken

Serves: 4

I don’t cook or eat a lot of stir fries.

In fact, this is the first I have ever typed up.

Which means it must be good, and it is.

It’s also simple. Mid-week dinner simple. Vietnamese hump-day stuff.

Perhaps closer to a larb than a stir fry and maybe that it why it is soo good, though stir fry it is and worth typing up, very much.

Ingredients

1 – 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
2 fat shallots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c lemongrass, finely chopped
4 – 5 dried Thai chillies (or 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes)
500g chicken mince
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 bell red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 baby boo chop, sliced
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c mint leaves or Thai basil
Lime wedges
Jasmine rice to serve

Method

  1. Cook your rice.
  2. In an extra large skillet, heat oil over a medium-high heat and one hot, add shallots and stir fry until tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic, lemongrass and dried chillies, stir frying until fragrant. Scoop all into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add a splash of oil, increase heat to high and add the ground chicken, season with salt and pepper, breaking it apart and browning once all the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add the five spice, peppers and bok choi, lower heat and stir fry until peppers are just tender, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and honey alone with the cook shallot mixture, removing the Thai chillies. Taste, adjust and add some fresh herbs to serve.

Riccardo Momesso’s Chicken and Clove Ragù with Polenta Pasta

Serves: 6 – 8

This wonderfully aromatic pasta is really quite sophisticated and absolutely memorable. A great example of how simple yet elegant a white ragù can be.

I didn’t have the time to make the polenta pasta though I have no doubt that would even further the wow factor. Next time.

I freshly and coarsely minced chicken thigh to make the chicken mince and if you can do so, it is so much better than store bought.

Served alongside Rodney Dunn’s Leaf Salad with Anchovy Salad Cream, this was a perfect Autumn lunch.

Just add Pinot Gris or better, Pinot Noir!

Ingredients

1 bunch cavolo nero, trimmed, roughly cut and ribs removed (about 350gm)
60ml olive oil (1/4 cup)*
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 anchovy fillets
40gm finely grated pecorino, plus extra to serve (1/2 cup)

Polenta pasta

100gm polenta
500gm plain flour (3 cups)

Chicken ragù

60ml olive oil (1/4 cup)*
3 golden shallots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1kg coarsely minced chicken
1ltr dry white wine
4 cloves, cracked

Method

  1. For the polenta pasta, bring 350ml of salted water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then add polenta in a thin, steady stream while whisking continuously until all is incorporated. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally until the polenta is cooked and thick (35 – 45 minutes; you may need to add extra water). Spread thinly on an oiled tray, cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate to chill. Transfer polenta to a kitchen mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until smooth. Add flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (8 – 10 minutes), adding extra flour if too sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest (30 minutes).
  2. For chicken and clove ragù, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and sauté until tender (8 – 10 minutes). Add chicken and fry until juices reduce and chicken begins to brown (35 – 40 minutes). Add wine and cloves, and simmer until liquid is almost evaporated (30 – 40 minutes). Add 1 litre water and reduce by half (30 – 40 minutes). Season to taste and set aside**.
  3. Meanwhile, divide pasta into quarters and roll each out on a lightly floured surface to about 2mm thick. Cut into triangles of about 3cm and transfer to flour dusted trays.
  4. Cook cavolo Nero in a saucepan of boiling salted water until tender (2 – 3 minutes). Drain, refresh and set aside. Heat oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and anchovies and cook until starting to colour (2 – 3 minutes). Add cavolo nero, season to taste and cook until starting to colour (2 – 3 minutes). Transfer to chicken ragù and stir to combine.
  5. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of simmering salted water until al dente (1 – 2 minutes). Drain, toss with ragù, sprinkle with pecorino and serve hot with extra pecorino.

* I used extra virgin olive oil and it was fine.

** I cooked the water down further though don’t push it. The liquid is wonderful when tossed through the pasta and it really is the wow factor I referred to!

Ada D’Urzo;s Pollo Alla Cacciatore (Hunter’s Chicken)

Serves: 4

This is an absolutely classic dish from Tuscany and I’m sure I’ve cooked various iterations over the years. Or at least eaten them.

This iteration is magic.

I added a sliced zucchini as the vegetable, though mushrooms or capsicum or really anything would work if you feel like the addition of a vegetable; though by its own, it is just so bloody good.

A big sprig of rosemary, the marjoram and the white wine. A slow braise of the chicken with the tomato. Stop!

Stretch for a parmesan polenta or a mash and this is just comfort and very simple comfort. Classic.

(I’ve very slightly adapted the recipe.)

Ingredients

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1kg chicken thigh cut into pieces
250ml white wine
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 rosemary sprig
1 marjoram sprig
Salt and pepper
Zucchini or vegetables of your choice

Method

  1. Gently heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low heat, add the onion and cook until transparent. Remove the onion and set aside. Increase the heat to medium, then add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.
  2. Return the onion to the pan and add the wine, tomatoes, rosemary, marjoram, salt and pepper as well as any vegetables you want to add. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour, turning the chicken pieces occasionally.
  3. If it starts to dry out, add a little warm water, Serve with a drizzle of extra olive oil.

The Glenorie Butcher Chicken and Corn Sausage

Makes: 80 – 100 sausages

My father-in-law Rob would often visit the outer-Sydney suburb Glenorie both for work and to pick up kilos of this sausage.

He would message the family on WhatsApp and we would all put in our orders. Nobody ever missed out on an order.

When Nat and I were married, late in the night after my brother James’ leg ham and bread roll station had been exhausted, Rob and I hauled up a BBQ and cooked dozens and dozens of these.

Everyone was blown away. The best chicken sausage.

Sadly, during Covid, the butcher shut up shop. Hard enough being an independent butcher, during a pandemic, when your rent goes up and you’re old enough to get out of the game.

On his last visit to the butcher, Rob asked for the recipe and given quite literally the tonnes he had purchased over many years, they were happy for it not to go to the grave.

Nat and I decided to take the plunge and recreate; hand-on-heart, this is the recipe. Served on these incredible bread rolls with Lurpak butter and a tomato sauce by Nat: hearty BBQ at its best.

The original recipe.
What are the chances of living 750m from one of Sydney’s best butchers?! (Yes, that’s Jamie our Groodle watching on hoping this is for her!)
A Weber due for a clean.
Could this be it?!
The gentleman that owns our local IGA drives these bread rolls in each morning from a Vietnamese bakery somewhere in the South West of Sydney. He brings in a pallet and they’re gone by 10am. When we go camping, my kids specifically request them for breakfast each morning. Add Nat’s homemade tomato sauce and some good butter and this is BBQ as good as it gets.

A few tips we picked up on the journey.

  • Use chicken thigh with the skin on to give you the fat you need for a wonderful sausage. As with the various sausages we’ve made in the past, fat is key.

    Also, use a quality brand of chicken or sourced from a good butcher. And frankly, you won’t be able to get thigh with the skin on outside of a chicken specialist or an order to your butcher.
  • Use a thin, natural casing. They’re harder to handle, though they’re thinner and much nicer. Run water through the casing to wash and rinse the salt from the outer.

    I used our local butcher – Hummerstons – for both the chicken and casings and as a butcher, they’re the real deal. Many butchers are reluctant to sell casings, though these guys are not precious at all. They just love meat and what can be done with it.

    Every time I tell them how I am going to cook a cut of their meat, they’re genuinely excited.
  • The seasoning is from J Delaney & Co in Warriwood. They will sell you a 1.5kg bag of Chicken Supreme which will do 15kg of chicken.
  • Rest the sausages for two days prior to cooking.

Immediately after the first batch, Nat literally ordered us a semi-commercial sausage stuffer. We can easily foresee the demand from the family!

Unquestionably, the greatest chicken sausage we’ve had and we’ve cracked the code! Farewell Glenorie Butcher and also farewell to my old man Bill whom we farewelled yesterday.

He loved the Chicken and Corn sausage as much as we did and he would have been proud. He gave us a wonderful bottle of the Giant Steps Tosq Vineyard Pinot Noir from Central Otago and wasn’t it a like-for-like swap!

I’m dedicating this blog and this recipe which is now ours, to Bill.

Nat and Bill. 💧

We miss you Billy. You’re love of wonderful food and even better wine always inspired us.

Ingredients

500gm J Delaney & Co Chicken Supreme (no added water)
5kg chicken thigh, skin on cut into pieces
500gm corn kernels
1/4 c honey
Thin, natural sausage casings – 15 meters at least

Method

  1. Grind the chicken on a 6mm blade in your meat grinder.
  2. Mix together the chicken with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Stuff into the casings using your stuffer. BBQ and enjoy.

Pushpesh Pant’s Prince-like Chicken Curry (Shahi Qorma)

Serves: 4

This a curry is total luxury.

Incredible.

I skipped the edible silver leaf, though the saffron infused milk and then the rose water? No way.

I’ve adjusted the recipe to use less ghee than originally instructed. You could also dial down the water added during the simmering stage, as you will need to cook it down, uncovered, after the 30 minutes of simmering. (I’ve typed up the recipe with 500ml vs the 750ml originally asked.)

Indeed, on the ghee front, once you’re close to the end of the simmer, if you see excess ghee, I would skim it off.

Nothing is more exciting to me than finding a new, home-run curry and this is just that. Absolutely fit for a prince.

Ingredients

Pinch of saffron threads
1 tbsp warm milk
2 tbsp ghee
10 green cardamom pods, bruised
5 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsp ginger paste
3 tbsp garlic paste
2 tsp ground coriander
1kg chicken thigh, cut into 3cm pieces
Salt
1 c hung plain yoghurt*
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp ground mace (substitute nutmeg)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 drops rosewater

To garnish

20 blanched almonds, cut into slivers**
Edible silver leaf

Method

  1. Put the saffron in a small bowl, add the warm milk and soak until required.
  2. Heat the ghee in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat, add the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves and stir-fry for about 1 minutes or until they start to splutter.
  3. Add the onions and stir fry for about 5 – 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and stir-fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the coriander and chilli powder, then season, stir and add the chicken. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes then add the yoghurt and bring almost to the boil. Pour in 500ml of water, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until cooked. Uncover and reduce until you have a gravy, adding the spices 10 minutes before the end of the simmering. Adjust the seasoning, then add the rosewater and soaked saffron and stir. Garnish with almonds (cashews) and silver leaf.

* Otherwise known as labneh, here is another blog of mine if you’re not across this.

** I’ve twice substituted slightly crushed cashews here and it is absolutely lovely.

Ajoy Joshi’s Chicken with Spinach

Serves: 4 – 6

A love a good spinach curry!

Unlike what we all get served up at our local Indian however, this dish by Ajoy Joshi has depth, heat and character. It is clearly a curry that doesn’t share a base with 200 other curries on the menu.

As with all Ajoy dishes, there are twists: the processed onions cooked gold in the oil is just one trick that makes this recipe special.

As part of a banquet, you could do a whole lot worse.

Ingredients

500gm (baby) spinach, stems removed
3 fresh mild long green chillies, slit lengthways
2 large yellow (brown) onions, roughly chopped
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 c whole milk
1 whole chicken (1.5kg) cut into 10 pieces, or 1kg chicken pieces (I used thigh)
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 c heavy (double) cream

Method

  1. In a food processor, combine spinach and chillies and process until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry process, add onions and process until finely ground. Remove from the processor and set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat oil over a medium-heat. Add onions and salt and cooked uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and cook for another 5 minutes longer.
  3. Raise heat to high, add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes.* Stir in the Garam Masala and chilli powder and cook, stirring, until all the moisture evaporates and the oil separates, 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spinach purée and tomatoes. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken is cooked throughout and tender, 20 – 25 minutes. Uncover and if liquid remains, continue to cook on a medium heat until it evaporates.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the cream. Serve immediately.

* Respectfully, when chefs ask for meat to be browned in a sauce or gravy, I just don’t understand if this is possible without commercial cooking. Meat just doesn’t brown in milk. Just cook the meat.

Dan Toombs’ Chicken Xacuti

Serves: 4

This famous Goan curry is a hit.

Like so many I have typed – all I hope – it is just so unique, so special, so different to your usual local Indian. Indeed, we couldn’t see a world where we would get this served up outside of your really top Indian nosheries.

It is of course, a completely unique curry base.

I quartered the stock and then cooked it down far more than Dan suggests, though I cannot see how this wasn’t necessary to achieve the sort of gravy you would expect.

Substituted thyme for the ajwain seeds – which seemed fine – though ironically picked up some ajwain seeds the next day at an Indian grocer. Next time.

This is a special Saturday-night in curry.

Unique as I said. Special. Just special and oh wow wonderful.

Ingredients

Xacuti Masala

6 Kashmiri red dried chillies, chopped
1 c dried coconut flakes
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black poppy seeds (substitute black sesame seeds)
7 cloves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5cm piece of cinnamon stick
4 star anise
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

For the curry

8 skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp rapeseed oil (canola)*
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
2 c chicken stock (I suggest 1/2c)
1 1/2 tamarind paste or concentrate
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 c coriander, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Start by making the Xacuti masala: in a dry frypan, toast the Kashmiri chillies for about a minute, turning regularly until fragrant. Place in a bowl of warm water to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Toast the coconut flakes until lightly browned and set aside.
  3. Toast the cumin, coriander, ajwain seeds, fennel and poppy seeds, the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and star anise over a medium-heat until fragrant and warm to the touch. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  4. When the chillies are soft, drain them reserving the soaking water, then blend them with the coconut flakes and the rest of the masala ingredients along with a little of the chilli soaking water to make a paste. (If the soaking water is too bitter, use fresh water instead.)
  5. Pour the paste over the chicken in a large bowl and mix to coat. Marinate for as long as you can: overnight if possible.
  6. Heat the oil in a large frypan over a high-heat and when bubbling, adding the mustard seeds, stirring until they pop. Reduce the heat and add the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes until soft, lightly browned and translucent. Stir in the chillies, then the chicken and all the marinade.
  7. Stir well to cover the chicken in the marinade and onion mixture; add the stock and cook down to a gravy.
  8. Stir in the tamarind and nutmeg and season. Stir in the coriander, season with salt and serve.

* We have doubled down on our oils this year and it makes a difference. Of course. Coconut oil, especially mustard oil. Canola will make the cut here, though do yourself the favour and invest in some Grapeseed oil. Doesn’t burn, no flavour, great for this sort of thing.

The New Roast Chicken

Serves: 4

I cooked this recipe – originally from Delicious Magazine – years ago and it is really just so impressive. Really rewarding.

It’s a roast chicken on Monday night.

Ingredients

1/3 c olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
4 skinless breast fillets
12 slices flat pancetta
4 slices sourdough bread
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 c flat-leaf parsley
40gm unsalted butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 c white wine
2 c chicken stock
2 tbsp dry sherry or white wine
Steamed green beans to serve

Method

  1. Combine 2 tbsp olive oil in a bowl with 1 crushed garlic clove and thyme leaves. Season the chicken breasts and coat in garlic oil. Wrap each breast with 3 slices of pancetta slightly overlapping. Enclose chicken in plastic wrap and chill for 2 – 3 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190c. Break bread into rough pieces and i and toss in 1 tbsp oil. Place on a baking tray in a single layer and cook for 10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool slightly and pulse in a food processor with lemon zest parsley and remaining garlic until you have coarse crumbs. Season.
  3. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in an ovenproof frypan over a medium-high heat. Remove chicken from plastic wrap and cook, turning for 2 – 3 minutes until browned all over, then cook in the oven for 10 – 12 minute or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven, add butter to the pan and baste chicken with the melted butter. Remove chicken from the pan and cover with foil while you make the gravy.
  4. Return frypan to medium heat and cook flour, stirring for 1 minute until lightly browned. Add wine and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, then add stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until the gravy is thickened. Add sherry to taste. Slice chicken and serve with gravy and green beans, scattered with breadcrumbs.

David Tanis’ Braised Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Serves: 4 – 6

I love a simple recipe that comes good and this one simply delivers.

It’s a bake (✅), it’s reasonably healthy (✅) and it’s easy (✅).

Though it’s the richness of wonderful Mediterranean flavour that truly gets it over the line. (✅).

It is better than the seeming sum of its parts and bravo for it.

The richness of the reserved stock, the break apart chicken… and those olives.

This is a mid-week meal that will set the clock forward to Friday when the cooking can commence. It’s just that good, that fun and that successful.

Paired with a salad of greens, red onion, tomato, maybe some cucumber and plenty of oregano and a good vinaigrette: I reckon only a bottle of chilled red along-side could better it.

Lock next Wednesday evening in and the road to the weekend just got much easier.

And chill that red.

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs (ideally skin-on and bone in)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
2 lemons, cut into 8 wedges each
1 c olives, black and green pitted
1 c chicken stock
3 tbsp chopped parsley to serve

Method

  1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish one layer, (skin) side up. Sprinkle with red pepper, garlic, fennel and rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. Rub seasoning on all sides. Tuck lemon wedges here and there, marinating for 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 190c.
  2. Put the baking dish in the oven for 20 minutes uncovered (or until the skin, if you have it, starts to brown). Scatter olives over evenly and then pour over the stock. Cover tightly and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Remove thighs and lemon wedges and arrange on a platter and keep warm. Pour pan juices into a saucepan and quickly skim fat from the surface. Over high heat, simmer rapidly until reduced by half. Spoon juices over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve.