I’m originally from Lincolnshire and I didn’t eat Indian food until I was a student in Yorkshire in the ’80’s – I’ve loved it ever since. I learned how to make classic Indian family food from one of my room mates and then the incomparable Madhur Jaffrey became my main go-to recipe guru. Last year, we bought Meera Sodha’s excellent ‘Made in India, cooked in Britain’ recipe book based on her family’s recipes when they fled from Uganda and relocated to Lincolnshire in the ’70’s. I loved reading about how her family had to adapt their family cooking to what was available locally – it must have been tough to do then. Her ‘Mum’s chicken curry’ dish is now a firm favourite of ours. I’ve tweaked it slightly because I prefer the addition of chicken stock and less butter but the smooth passata and yoghurt based sauce thickened with ground almonds is simply delicious. These days all the ingredients are readily available pretty much anywhere in Britain and curry is considered to be one of our top comfort foods!
You will need…
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and a large knob of butter.
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 thumb sized root of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
- 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 large fresh green or red chilli plus 1 tsp chilli powder (make it as hot or as mild as you like with more chilli)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 200g tomato passata
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tsps ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
- Skinless chicken thighs – I allow 2 per person, 8 will amply serve 4 people
- 1 Knorr gel chicken stockpot (it adds flavour but not liquid volume this way)
- 3 tbsp ground almonds
- 1 tsp garam masala
- A small bunch of fresh chopped coriander.
- You can make this on the hob in its entirety or, I prefer to start it on the hob and then cook this in the oven. So, preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Add the salt, ginger, garlic, a dash of water and the chilli to a mini-blender and blitz until it’s a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a wide-bottomed cast iron lidded casserole, gently heat the oil and butter.
- Add the cumin and cinnamon, stir and allow to infuse in the oil for a few minutes.
- Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and golden.
- Add the paste to the pan, stir for a couple of minutes and then add the passata, tomato purée, cumin and turmeric.
- Whisk in the yoghurt and the stock, then add the chicken pieces.
- Add the lid and pop it into the oven for an hour until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick. If you cook on the hob, turn it onto a low heat.
- Add the ground almonds and garam masala, stir and check for seasoning. Add more salt or chilli powder to taste. Cook through for another 10 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped coriander before serving. I serve this with basmati rice with some frozen petits pois stirred through, or naan bread or chapatis if you prefer.
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