Thursday, April 17, 2008

Curry for the Weekend

Sunday 13 April 2008

It's still not exactly warm here, although the sun is trying to shine, so here's something filling to come home to after the pub at some point this weekend.

This recipe for pepper chicken chettinad comes from Australian Gourmet Traveller, and was taken from Qmin, by Anil Shokan. It looks as though this book may be available in the UK as Contemporary Indian Cuisine. The usual departures from the printed recipe are inevitable ...

We started with chicken marylands (thighs and legs) which were seasoned with salt and turmeric and set to one side.

Next, the base. Dry roast some dried chillis, peppercorns and cumin seeds. Blend these and then add to four shallots (use shallots, rather than onions, as the taste does end up being quite different) and 8 cloves of garlic, and crush it all in a blender. Not too much: leave it as a coarse mix.

In your favourite curry cooking pan, heat some vegetable oil, and when hot, add a few curry leaves. Put in your chicken and seal and brown the meat (be prepared for the usual spitting). Once browned, remove the meat, and add 3 roughly chopped tomatoes and cook. Next, add your garlic/shallot/spice mix and cook through. And finally, return the chicken (and any juices) to the pan, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes or so. Obviously, your chicken needs to be cooked and the sauce needs to be ... saucy.

We served with plain rice and some of our standby red dahl recipe.

This is very tasty and a pleasant departure from the 'usual' curry. The flavour of the shallots makes quite a difference (mind you, I'd make this with onion if no shallots were available), and you've got great control over the spiciness of the final dish. Adjust your dried chilli to black peppercorn ratio as you wish! It's also a quick dish to make - so it's perfect for quick suppers - but it reheated well too, so you can either make ahead or make twice as much for leftovers!

The original recipe actually calls for fennel seeds in place of the curry leaf and cumin that I substituted. The moral of the story? No matter how think you know your spice cupboard, it's worth checking what's actually in there!

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