Chicken skewers: Moroccan-style marinade

Makes: 12 skewers

For Nat’s birthday, we got an awesome, portable, charcoal grill from Everdure, a company Heston Blumenthal has been promoting.

The idea was inspired by some Phillipino pork skewers we had cooked over a traditional hibachi grill at a market a few weeks prior; though a sensible, all-in-one charcoal grill versus a not so sensible, not so portable hibachi grill steered us in the Heston direction.

Anyway, we have loved the grill and the many skewers we’ve made with the boys and friends.

There is something neat about cooking your own meat over a super hot grill. Cold beer, sizzling meat, some dipping sauces… doesn’t get much better.

This marinade we have done twice and it has been really popular.

Make it the day ahead and marinate the chicken in a big ziplock bag. When cutting the meat, keep it small and consistent. Small cubes, not big off cuts.

If you can find chicken thigh with the skin on, even better… though however you do it, get the surface chargrilled and enjoy the taste of charcoal BBQ.

Ingredients

1.2kg chicken thighs

Marinade

1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt flakes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Cube the chicken into 2cm cubes, retaining the fat.
  2. Combine the marinade ingredients with a few cracks of pepper. Marinate the chicken cubes with the marinate, ideally overnight, refrigerated.
  3. Soak bamboo skewers in a shallow dish of cold water for 30 minutes and then drain.
  4. Skewer the chicken tightly. Heat the grill on high. And cook those puppies, marinating with the remaining marinade as you go.

(Not) Butter chicken

(Not) Butter chicken

Serves: 4

The last ‘generic’ curry I I typed up, I commented that I had always steered clear of the Indian take-away favourites – Rogan Josh, Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken – because, well, they’re the sold-out, hardly Indian curries. 

In fact, butter chicken was the worst of the lot.

Often a flavourless, nuclear yellow/orange goop, I literally only entertain it because the boys will eat it: validation that it must be bland. (Sorry boys).

So by typing this up, you must have guessed it.

This is a seriously good curry. A seriously good, rich, flavoursome, moorish butter chicken, so much so, that you’d say it isn’t butter chicken.

So maybe after-all I haven’t cooked butter chicken.

Either way, you will love it. Just tell them it’s not butter chicken.

Ingredients

1 kg chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 bsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stems, curry leaves
1 red chilli, chopped including seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 x 400gm can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
165ml coconut cream
1 tsp golden syrup
½ concentrated chicken stock cube

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Season the chicken thighs well and add to the pan; cook until golden brown. Set aside.
  3. Add the butter to the pan and when heated, add the onion and cook cover a medium heat until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the curry leaves, chilli and spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and coconut cream; add the golden syrup and stock cube and stir to dissolve.
  5. Return the chicken and cook on a low heat for at least an hour; several more if you have the time.
  6. Check the seasoning and serve garnished with the fresh coriander and steamed white rice.

Chicken, Pumpkin and Cashew Curry

Chicken, Pumpkin and Cashew Curry

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really neat curry from The Blue Ducks’ ‘Real Food’ cookbook, a book we really like and have had some early success from.

It is unusual, both in terms of the amount of curry powder you need for it, as well as the wonderfully fragrant paste of ginger, garlic, curry leaves, lime leaves, coriander roots and lemongrass; though it definitely, definitely pulls together.

Just ensure that you get the curry powder to a powder, even if it means a second vino whilst working the mortar and pestle.

It is warm, comforting, fragrant and fun to pull together. Comfort being the operative word; this is simply a great chicken curry you’d happily eat every night with rice – or cauliflower rice as we did.

The original recipe asks for a whole chicken cut up, though we used 1kg of chicken thigh.

Final point: Kashmiri chilli powder.

Most of Rick Stein’s curries ask for it. Among many others.

Sure, you can substitute other chilli powders, though if you can, make the effort and get some Kashimiri chilli powder from an Indian grocer. It is mild and adds a wonderful red hue rather than simply being the Sherman Tank so many chilli powders are. It is worth it.

Ingredients

3 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
1 large onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, chopped
10 – 15 curry leaves
3 kaffir lime leaves (remove the spine)
1 bunch of coriander, leaves picked and roots and stalks reserved
1 lemongrass stem, white part only, chopped
1 x 1.6 kg chicken, 10 – 12 pieces, skin on and bones in (or 1kg of chicken thigh)
200ml coconut milk
500gm peeled and deseeded pumpkin, cut into 5cm dice
400gm can diced tomatoes
100gm roasted cashews
1 heaped tsp salt flakes
Natural yoghurt

Curry Powder

75gm coriander seeds (yes, a lot!)
50gm cumin seeds (ditto)
8 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
6 black peppercorns
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 dried chillies
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

Method

  1. For the curry powder, toast the coriander seeds cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves in a dry frying pan until fragrant and lightly coloured. Tip the spices into a spice grinder – or mortar and pestle – and grind until a fine powder.
  2. Place the garlic, ginger, curry leaves, lime leaves, coriander roots and stalks, and lemongrass in a blender or small food processor and blitz to a paste.
  3. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the ghee and fry the onion until it is just turning golden. Add the curry powder and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the spices don’t burn.
  4. Add the paste to the pan and fry for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the chicken, coconut milk, pumpkin, tomatoes, cashews, salt and half the coriander leaves. Slowly simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Sprinkle with the remaining coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice (or cauliflower rice) and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

Black Pepper Chicken Fry

Serves: 4

This recipe is from Christine Manfield’s gorgeous book, Tasting India.

If you ever needed convincing to visit India, leaf through her book and you have it; an afternoon with this wonderful book was enough to seal it for us and in 2017, we’re heading there!

This dish is from the Chettinad region and is as unusual as it is tasty. It isn’t spicy, though the pepper gives it a lovely peppery taste. Really unique.

It’s also pretty easy to prepare, something we did for an Indian-dinner at Nat’s sister’s place.

If you love curry like we do, this is definitely one to try.

Ingredients

5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3cm piece cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods, cracked
2 white onion, finely sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 tsp salt
1kg chicken thigh fillets, chopped into 3 cm pieces

Pepper Masala

3 tsp fennel seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
4 small dried red chillis

Method

  1. To make the pepper masala, dry roast the spices over a gentle heat. Cool, then grind to fine powder.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and ginger to a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the cinnamon and cardamom over a moderate heat for 30-seconds until fragrant. Add the onion and stir for a few minutes until golden. Add half the pepper masala and stir until fragrant. Add the ginger garlic paste and the tomato and fry for a few minutes, then season with the salt and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and stir until they are coated. Fry for 3 – 4 minutes until the chicken is beginning to colour. Add 2 cups (500ml) water, then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the chicken is cooked and tender; remove the lid, and cook down any remaining liquid until you have a thick gravy. Serve.

Chicken Balti Pies

Serves: 4

An interesting story behind these pies.

They were invented by an English food company, Shire Foods in 1997. Sold at football games, sales of the pies exploded; according to Wikipedia, the pies have a cult status and clubs including Manchester have Shire Foods as their exclusive pie supplier.

Any why not?!

Anyone who brings together a spicy chicken curry and puff pastry is a genius. Genius, just like these pies.

Which of course begs the question, why aren’t all curries covered in pastry?

Start with this pie and you’ll ask the same question.

(The original recipe asked to make individual pies. We made one large pie. Obviously, up to you so have kept the pastry/pie step pretty loose…)

Ingredients

4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp garam masala
4 cardamom pods
1kg chicken thigh cut into 3 cm pieces
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 long green chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
10 curry leaves
375ml (1 ½ cups) chicken stock
1 tbsp plain flour
6 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp nigella seeds
Buttered peas and ketchup to serve

Method

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add spices and stir for 1 minute, then add the chicken, tomato paste and chilli and cook, stirring to coat in spices for 6 minutes or until the chicken is browned all over.
  2. Add curry leaves and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the stock has almost completely reduced; you are ultimately after a thick pie gravy. Add flour and stir for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line your pie trays or casserole dish with puff pastry; fill with the pie mixture. Complete your pie by covering and sealing with the remaining puff pastry. Brush with the egg wash and scatter with nigella seeds.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  5. BOOM!