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!