Thursday, 21 October 2010

Chicken curry

So I made this curry last night, but decided I wasn't that crazy about it, so didn't take a photo. But then I had a bit more and thought "Actually this is great" and my husband said "Yeah it's really great."

And so I resolved to take a photo this morning. But then I forgot and turned the leftovers into a salad, so now I've got nothing to take a photo of. So here's another photo of me on holiday:

Yes I don't look too fat here until you have a look at where my back ends (bottom right)

Anyway, it was an approximation of a thing I got off River Cottage Bites and it's a nice curry although it'll make your house stink like the local Taj Star.

The really interesting thing about it is that I implemented some advice given to me, indirectly, by the film director Gurinda Chadha, who said on some cooking programme that her family always cooked chicken with the skin off. She said "I don't know why," but I do.

It's because chicken skin is unbelievably greasy and curry doesn't need to be any more greasy than it already is. So last night I skinned the chicken drumsticks before browning them as normal and the result was superb.

So here we go, the River Cottage Bites chicken curry, for about 4 people

8 chicken drumsticks (or thighs)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can coconut milk (I use those small turqouise ones from Waitrose)
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1 fresh chilli, seeds in or there's no point
1 2cm square of fresh ginger
1 small onion

1 Grind together the seeds, the turmeric and the cumin and toast gently in a dry pan until the kitchen smells like the set of Slumdog Millionaire. It seems like a shiteload, but just tip it all in.

2 In a food processor, whizz up the ginger, onion and chilli to make a paste. Add some oil to the pan that the spices are cooking in and then tip in this paste. While that's cooking gently for about 10 mins, bloop into the processor the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk and whizz. Leave it there for a bit.

3 Skin the chicken and brown in a pan for about 4 minutes each side. Arrange in a baking dish

4 When the paste/spice mix has had about 10 mins, add in the tomato/coconut mixture and wibble this around until it's all bubbling. Then taste - it will be bland as hell, but spicy, so add salt bit by bit until it starts to taste like something nice. In the end I added - no joke - about four big pinches of salt, but it's best to start small.

5 Pour this mixture over the chicken and bake in a 180C oven, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Very nice re-heated, or cold. The leftover sauce makes a really delicious light curry dressing when mixed with yoghurt, cucumber and mint.


  1. Yeah, I've never kept the skin on when cooking chicken curry either.

  2. Hi Esther - have spent the last day or so reading through your recipes (bit by bit of course. I've got things to do!) and am so pleased to finally be reading a food blog by someone who seems to swear as much as I do, and who appears to get as much satisfaction from preparing really good tasting food as I do.
    I'm also looking forward to trying out a good few of your recipes (was going to try the Scotch Eggs today, but time conspired against me and they'll have to wait until tomorrow).


  3. I really need to start making my own curry pastes and powder combinations. Most of the time I'm far too lazy and end up using a curry paste or tesco's medium curry powder, which I'm sure is substantially inferior to making your own blend. I'm too lazy though, and it makes the ingredient list for a curry sound far too long. Saying that, I would like to try this curry out. Love a good curry.

    Hope the prok pie thank you gift worked out, and beautiful photo :)

  4. I've actually noticed that a lot of cookbooks recently have been recommending shop-bought curry pastes - Jamie's latest and also Leon Cookbook 2. I don't really see what the problem with them is and unless you're a bit of a spice-mixing whizz your own aren't, actually, as punchy and exciting. Also there are possibly fewer preservatives.

  5. There's a very good cookbook coming out in 2011 that recommends shop-bought curry paste when short of time or energy...can't remember what it's called...

  6. Hang on hang on... Isn't it called small adventures in cooking...?

  7. Yes that sounds familiar...the next 'Bravo Two Zero' I hear.

  8. Hi Esther! I've just got round to reading your blog post about Chicken Curry, even though I knew about it last week - as Giles told me when I met him at the book signing. It's written very well, and some parts are funny - like the chilli with seeds in bit, which you mentioned before on another one of your blog posts. Overall, I loved it!

  9. I tried this last night... it was great... but I used a big can of coconut... and it was a bit well.... runny... and the onion disappeared! But it was still fantastic! Thanks for the recipe...

  10. Hi Esther

    I made this last night and it went horribly wrong and I don't know why! I need your help! I think I did something wrong with the spices or something because the sauce all had a weird, strong, bitter taste and there is no way I could have eaten it. It also wasn't spicy. Would that happen if I burnt the spices when I was toasting them? I don't think I did but maybe I did.I had to go out specially and buy most of the spices so it's not like they could have gone off or anything. Any possible advice you had would be gratefully received. I love the idea of a curry I can throw in the oven so I want to try it again, any tips?

    Thanks so much

    Elaine x

  11. Oh dear! Yes you may possibly have unwittingly burnt the spices - you're really just warming them up to release their flavours rather than actually cooking them. Also, did you use olive oil at any point? That can burn easily and taste bitter.

    I'm terribly sorry, though. I was always in I was in two minds about posting this recipe because I didn't feel like the curry really SANG, so after your disaster I might take it down...

  12. Yes, on reflection I think I definitely did burn the spices. I didn't use olive oil, I used groundnut oil. It wasn't a complete waste, I lifted the chicken out of the sauce, scraped the sauce off, roasted it a bit longer and had chicken sandwiches. Even I can't mess up chicken sandwiches! Don't take it down just because I'm too daft to warm spices without burning them, other people are proabably smarter, it's really not your fault :-)

    All I need to do now is find another recipe I can make to use up the rest of the jar of fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds (and try not to burn them).

    Cheers. x