Finally after counting down for two weeks (me not him) Aedan is home from the Gaeltacht. The request was made by text the night before he got home for a ‘Chicken Korma with loads and loads of rice’ – poor starving child!
As I’ve said in a previous post, we like curry. Specifically Indian Curry. I have to say this is one thing not inspired by home cooking – mam used to make a curry, probably very popular in 1970s Ireland, that as far as I can remember, really a glorified chicken casserole with curry powder and pineapples (??) stirred in. It wasn’t until I went off to college in London and met my dear friend Savy on the first day that I was was introduced to what really curry is meant to taste like. I saw how to cook Basmati rice properly (DON’T STIR), tasted spicy samosas from the corner shop near St Marys, Strawberry Hill and got to spend the next three years going home to her house whenever invited at weekends. And that is when I tasted curry!
I also found the proper joy of ‘going out for an Indian’. Ireland still seems to treat Indian restaurants as an expensive meal out – this is not the case in the UK. Ireland in 1988, when I left, had just about discovered the joy of a Dolmio Lasagne & Spaghetti Bolognese was the height of sophistication. (I love both by the way!) But to discover Jalfrezi, Dopiaza, Keema Nans and buttery Parathas, Vindaloos (a British invention really, never found it in India when we went on holidays) Tikka Masalas & spicy Dhals. You can never go back to the pineapple version again!
And what most people start with and kids love is the heavenly Chicken Korma. Yes, if you are a curry house aficionado you will turn your nose up and sniff at someone ordering Chicken Korma. (Leigh!! – this is where I test if you actually ever read this blog!) But despite all the years of curry making and tasting it still ranks in my top three. I often order it and although it is known as mild, I have tasted and made very spicy versions also. And this is exactly what Aedan wanted after two weeks away from home.
Jamie Oliver’s version from “Ministry of food” is the most authentically close to a restaurant Korma I have tasted. The whole premise of this cookery book is to persuade us that we can make versions of food we regard as only take away food, at home. As he says, cooking good food from scratch is a basic skill, he argued anyone could learn to cook and the accompanying TV series showed many reluctant beginners enticed, encouraged and ultimately delighted with what they cooked. This is his (slightly adapted!) version of a take away Chicken Korma and I go back to it time after time when I’m missing my curry house fix.
800g skinless and boneless chicken breasts,
2 medium onions
1 fresh green chilli, optional (it really doesn’t make it too hot)
A thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
1 small bunch of fresh coriander
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas (I put these in sometimes, not essential)
Groundnut or vegetable oil
Knob of butter
1/2 x 290g jar of Patak’s korma curry paste (and seriously, use half the jar)
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
A small handful of flaked almonds, plus extra for serving
2 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g natural yoghurt (to serve dolloped on the top, I forgot for the photo!)
Cut the chicken into approximately 3cm pieces. Peel, halve and finely slice your onions. Halve, deseed and finely slice the chilli, if you’re using it. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Pick the coriander leaves and finely chop the stalks. Drain the chickpeas.
Put a large casserole-type pan on a high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil. Stir in the onions, chilli, ginger and coriander stalks with the butter. Keep stirring it enough, so that it doesn’t catch and burn, but turns evenly golden. Cook for around 10 minutes.
Add the korma curry paste, coconut milk, half your flaked almonds, the drained chickpeas (if using) desiccated coconut and sliced chicken breasts. Half fill the empty chickpea tin with water, pour it into the pan, and stir again. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Check the curry regularly to make sure it’s not drying out, and add extra water if necessary.
When the chicken is tender and cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper – but please season carefully. Serve with boiled rice, adding a few spoonfuls of natural yoghurt dolloped on top of the korma, and sprinkle over the rest of the flaked almonds. Finish by scattering over the coriander leaves, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.