This easy chicken curry is pure comfort food. It’s made with skinned thigh fillets and has a faintly Sri Lankan taste as it combines the sweetness of coconut with the sharpness of tamarind (you could add the juice of half a lemon if you don’t have tamarind). It will please people who don’t like hot curries – it’s very gentle. I made it because I fancied a curry and was running out of my usual curry spices so had to fall back on the cheat’s solution of curry powder. The one I had was labelled ‘mild’, the sort that you might use for a korma. You can make the whole thing from start to finish in less than an hour one large lidded pot, such as a dutch oven if you have one, on the hob. You can substitute other veg for the spinach and peas, eg shredded cabbage, frozen broad beans, French beans.
Serve with flatbreads or plain rice and maybe a little of that left over chutney from Christmas?
50ml olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 crushed garlic cloves
5cm piece of peeled fresh ginger, grated
4 large skinned chicken thigh fillets
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
Generous squirt of tomato puree
5x 5 cm block of creamed coconut dissolved into 100ml of boiling water, whisked to get rid of lumps
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of baby spinach
Handful of frozen peas
Teaspoon of seed-free tamarind paste dissolved into 50ml boiling water
Heat the oil and sweat the diced red onion for about five minutes on a low heat. Add the crushed garlic and grated ginger and stir fry with the onions for another three minutes.
Cut each chicken thigh into 3 pieces. Add them to the onion mixture and let them brown all over, turning a few times, keeping an eye out for burning. Now add the mustard seeds and let them pop for about a minute. Add the curry powder and keep stirring gently to stop it burning, letting it cook for about a minute. Add the puree, dissolved coconut, sugar, salt and pepper. Put a tight fitting lid on the pan, keeping the heat very low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked. Add the washed spinach, frozen peas and tamarind water. Replace the lid and let it all cook for another three minutes. If it seems dry, add whatever water you think it needs. If there’s too much liquid, take the chicken out and keep it warm while you reduce the sauce to your liking.