This quick, easy dish is an excellent compromise when one person in the household likes spicy food and another does not. It’s a good way to introduce children, very gently, to the whole idea of ‘curry’*. This is not a curry in any real sense even though it uses a few curry spices. The spices are not fried first so they never release their stronger flavours and the roasting process reduces their intensity anyway. You make a simple paste with crème fraiche and oil, a squeeze of ginger and another of garlic then add the other spices and flavourings. If you have time to let it marinate, you will get an even better result.
*Also can appeal to American friends who missed out on the British initiation rite as young people of eating that late Friday night vindaloo where the challenge was to supress any wincing or complaining. You just took another gulp of cold water even when your mouth was on fire and you wanted to send for the fire brigade. After that, any curry feels OK.
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
I tablespoon oil
Squeeze of garlic paste
Squeeze of ginger paste
Squeeze of tomato puree
½ teaspoon cayenne
Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
I teaspoon garam masala
4-6 chicken thigh fillets, depending on size and appetite
6 cauliflower florets
2 banana shallots, peeled and halved vertically
125ml stock of any kind you happen to have, eg fresh or made up with bouillon powder or gel
Make the marinade first. Put the crème fraiche and oil into a shallow bowl big enough to take all the ingredients then add the garlic paste, ginger paste, tomato puree, cayenne, pepper, salt, cumin, turmeric and garam masala. Cut the chicken thigh fillets in half and rub the paste in well. Ideally leave it all for at least half an hour in the fridge. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a small roasting tray or a gratin dish, tucking in the cauliflower florets and the peeled, halved shallots. Scrape out any remaining marinade and use your hands to make sure everything is well coated. Put the tray in the oven and leave it for 30 minutes when it all should begin to look browned. Heat the stock to boiling point and pour it over the food. Leave it to roast for another 30 minutes or whenever the chicken is completely cooked. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving in warmed deep dishes, spooning the juices over, with some flat breads or rice on the side.