While we continue to enjoy the fantastic Indian summer weather, we are mindful of the change to come. It is always a shame to see the last of summer, but autumn has its own rewards. National Curry Week is on the horizon (13th-19th October) and it struck me that the wonderful rich colours of Indian spices are reflected in the glorious autumnal hues. As the leaves turn to tones of saffron, turmeric, chilli and star anise, the nights draw in and we wrap ourselves in this season’s cocooning knits, our thoughts turn to warming comfort food. What could be better than a curry? I thought I would share with you one of my favourite recipes to get you started. Don’t forget your shower cap and house coat! Happy cooking!
Punjabi Chicken and Spinach Curry, serves 8
3 medium onions finely chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons of oil (I prefer Rapeseed, but any type will do)
1.5kg thigh chicken, need to be skinless and each piece chopped in two and stabbed with holes!
900g fresh organic tomatoes or 2 tins of organic chopped tomatoes
1½ level teaspoons of salt (but more or less depending on taste)
10 cloves finely chopped garlic. Or, I sometimes cheat and use 3 heaped teaspoons very lazy garlic
3 teaspoons heaped garam marsala
2 heaped teaspoons turmeric/haldi
2 heaped teaspoons cumin seeds
8cm sized peeled and grated ginger
3 large handfuls of spinach (optional)
2 handfuls finely chopped coriander (add at the end)
Fresh green chillies or dried red chilli flakes – vary quantity to how spicy you like it.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and fry onions and cumin seeds until brown or until cumin seeds start to smoke, around 8-12 minutes. Add salt.
- Meanwhile, with the chicken thighs, chop each piece in two and stab through.
- Wash fresh tomatoes and blend into liquid. If you are using tinned tomatoes then there is no need to to this.
- Once onions browned add garlic, marsala, turmeric and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes until it starts smoking. If the mixture appears to be sticking to the saucepan, add a little bit more oil. It is important not to under or over cook spices as this can make the curry bitter.
- Add liquidised tomatoes, or canned tomatoes and chilli. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
- Add chicken, stir in thoroughly and cook and cover on low heat, stirring occasionally for at least an hour. Make sure it isn’t sticking to bottom of saucepan.
- Optional, 10 minutes from the end of cooking time add spinach.
- Just before serving add grated ginger and chopped coriander.
- Serve with brown rice or Indian breads and low fat yoghurt