Ten Easy Chicken Recipes for the Whole Family

Hi Everybody, I hope you are all fairing up ok and making the best of the situation we all face.  I plan to hunker down with a many good books, give huggles to loved ones and catch up on those box sets – I plan to watch Game of Thrones – I know, I know I am very late to that party and yes if you are reading this dear brother and sister-in-law, I do plan to start Clarissa by Samuel Richardson that you gave me for Christmas (it’s probably the thickest novel I have ever seen) – has anyone read it?

The sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air – I managed to cut the grass today (that’s as exciting as it gets round here at the moment) which has given our postage size garden that summer feel – we may well be spending a lot of time in it in the coming weeks. As we are all being told to slow down and not really go out we have to keep ourselves busy and our minds occupied. Video calls with multiple pals on each call, seem de rigour with our evenings literally scheduled back to back with calls to friends around the globe – checking in and keeping us all feeling upbeat. It’s important to keep in touch with family, friends and neighbours as much as we can and a call – especially a video call – is a great way to do this.

When it comes to food, a number of you were requesting some easy family chicken recipes that you can cook over the coming weeks. I’ve had in mind ones that don’t have too many ingredients, that you can cook and the whole family can enjoy together.

First up is the one that I cooked live on IGTV with my mini mini me at the helm of my camera (hence the low angle shots and the humming in the background – all very sweet), is ‘Smoked Paprika Chicken, Cannellini beans and Rainbow Chard’.

From start to finish it takes 20 minutes max and it goes a long way. You can eat it as is, or cook some rice (I made some red camargue and wild rice, which worked really well. ) or couscous on the side, or pop some cubed potato into it if you fancy.  Take a look at the ingredients:

I actually ended up only using one tin of cannelloni beans but you can add two if you are feeding more than 4 people to bulk out the meal.

Smoked Paprika Chicken, Cannellini beans and Rainbow Chard

serves 4

2 tbsp oil (I used my shallot confit and a little rapeseed, but olive oil works just fine too)

1 white onion, finely diced

2 bay leaves

thyme leaves, 5 stems (or any herb you have that needs using up)

3 garlic cloves

4 chicken thighs, skin on

2 chicken breast, cubed

2 tsp smoked paprika (you can use sweet/hot paprika)

salt to taste

pepper to taste

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp tomato puree

4/5 stem and leaves of rainbow chard, diced (you can use spinach, kale, cavolo nero instead)

 

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the onion and a little salt to speed up the cooking of the onions.
  2. Add the bay and thyme (or herb of your choosing)
  3. When the onion begins to soften add the chicken thighs – skin side down – and the chicken breasts and add some pepper.
  4. Add the garlic. Allow the chicken thigh skin to begin to bronze and then turn over.
  5. Add the paprika, tomatoes and tomato puree. Add a little water to loosen the ingredients.
  6. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  7. Taste test and then add more seasoning as required.
  8. Add the rainbow chard/greens and simmer for a few more minutes, until wilted and soft and then serve.

 

Remember if you don’t have chard, use kale, spinach, cavolo nero or even peas.

 

Another crowd pleaser and one of my fav chicken dishes (that isn’t Indian) is my Spanish Baked Chicken recipe. I cannot tell you how BLINKING delicious this one is.

You can find the recipe HERE.

Next up is my Keralan Chicken Stew. Ok I am hoping you have some spices, if you don’t, then you’ll have to sadly pass on this one. I was taught it by a lovely lady in Kerala called Moly, who I spent the day with a number of years ago.

It does have Kashmiri chillies in it, but these are not hot in the slightest and the dish is nicely spiced as opposed to spicy and my girls love it.

OK, next up is one of my childhood memory dishes – Japanese Katsu Curry.

You can read WHY a Japanese dish featured so highly in my childhood by clicking HERE for the recipe.

If you are looking for a beginners curry then the one above ticks the box. It requires very few ingredients and will appeal to a palate that is not accustomed to spices.

You can find the recipe HERE.

My traditional Bengali chicken curry, above, is loved by my children and I hope yours will love it too. If you have a whole chicken cut the chicken into 10 and remove the skin and cook it on the bone – it tastes so good this way. If you are nervous about cooking like this then it is fine to cook it using simply thighs, breast – boned or unboned. It’s a one pot dish, although I often make some rice to go alongside it.

Now for this next chicken dish you can replace the barberries for cranberries, raisins or sultanas – don’t worry if you don’t have barberries – I know it’s not what most people have lurking in their pantry. This dish is called “Zereshk Polow” and it is basically the Iranian version of an Indian Biryani. Again if you don’t have saffron use a pinch of turmeric.

You can find the recipe HERE

As you know I love my broths so thought perhaps this one might be a good one to consider. Just tone down the chillies you add if you are giving it to children or you can take them out altogether.  You can find the recipe HERE.

Finally I am going to leave you with a couple of recipes I found on the web that look super easy and don’t require many ingredients.

Creamy Herb Chicken and you can find it HERE

Sticky Chinese Chicken Traybake HERE 

Let me know if you cook any of the above, would love to hear how they were received. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves, be safe and I’ll be back soon with another post.

 

 

 

 

 


Butter Chicken

After quite a number of requests, I bring you my butter chicken recipe this week. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser, liked by all ages, owing to its creamy tomato flavour. As the name suggest it contains butter – quite a lot if I’m honest – and cream, so perhaps this is one that you cook once in a while as opposed to each week. It’s delicately spiced as opposed to spicy so by default appeals to most palates. It is the one curry that using the breast meat works well. Typically I would always suggest using chicken thigh or the whole chicken cut into pieces by your butcher, but for butter chicken breast meat is perfect.

Whilst it is super straightforward to make there are a few stages to consider. You need to marinate the meat – minimum an hour or even overnight if you are really organised. After this you then char the chicken in a pan (grill also works well). Using the same pan you lightly bronze the onion and blitz that into a smooth paste. Next step is to create a buttery, creamy tomato sauce before adding the onion and meat and allowing it to simmer and infuse together. It can be cooked in advance so is certainly a good one if you are entertaining. I think you are going to like it. If you are on instagram and you make please tag me @chilliandmint #chilliandmint

Have a good week everyone.

Butter Chicken

Serves 6 (if serving with other dishes)

750g chicken breast or thigh (boneless), cut into bite sized pieces

marinade

3 tbsp full fat natural yoghurt

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala powder

1 tsp coriander powder

juice from half a lemon

1 tsp salt

 

onion puree

1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter

2 tbsp oil

2 white onions, roughly chopped

 

creamy tomato sauce

75g salted butter

400g passata (or fresh tomatoes)

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar

1 tsp salt

pinch freshly ground black pepper

150ml double cream

1 tbsp dried methi/fenugreek leaves

 

  1. First you need to marinate the chicken. Mix all the marinade together and then cover tightly with cling film/foil and place in the fridge for an hour – to overnight.
  2. Once you have marinated the chicken sufficiently heat the ghee/butter in a frying pan.  Add the pieces of chicken so that they sealed and charred on both sides. This takes about 3-4 minutes on each side. They won’t be completely cooked at this stage so don’t try and nibble a piece quite yet! You will need to char the chicken in batches so that it does not overcrowd the pan. You do not want to steam it so don’t overcrowd the chicken or put a lid on the pan.
  3. Once all the chicken pieces have been charred, place in a bowl and keep to one side.
  4. In the same pan add the ghee and gently fry the onion so that it begins to bronze – this will take around 6 minutes. Remove from the pan, with all the charred scrapings from the bottom and blitz into a smooth paste using a small blender.
  5. In a deep pan/karahi, add the butter. When it is melted add the spices followed by the passata, black pepper, salt and jaggery/sugar. (If you are using fresh tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes in the pan and then blitz these too into a smooth paste and then return to the pan to follow the next steps.) Allow to simmer on a gentle heat for 7 minutes, by which time the sauce will have thickened sufficiently.
  6. Add the double cream, onion puree, chicken and dried fenugreek. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes on a low heat. Taste test and add more salt (and butter if you fancy) if needed.

To serve add a pinch more dried fenugreek and a drizzle of double cream. Equally fresh coriander on top would work well to serve.

It is delicious eaten with naan or rice. Accompanying dishes that would work well would be my chana dal and I will be eating mine with my tindora/ivy gourd curry.

 

 

 

 

 


Chiang Mai Noodle Broth – An alternative Boxing Day recipe

Before we know it Christmas is upon us, so I thought I would get this recipe out early for you so that you can menu plan in advance. Whilst it is a Thai dish, it’s origin is actually from Burma and is very similar to the Malaysian laksa. I have cooked it for many years and whilst I tend to use boneless chicken thighs, I was thinking it would also work equally well with leftover turkey too. So if you are feeling the urge for some zing and heat on Boxing Day this recipe may just tick many boxes. You can make your own red curry paste (see at the bottom of this post for the recipe), should you want to make it completely from scratch or you can use a bought paste, which will speed up the process and make it pretty hassle free. I find this brand works well. The garnishes are important as they add texture, colour, flavour and taste so don’t hold back when plating up.

 

Chiang Mai Noodle Broth

serves 4

500ml coconut milk

2 tbsp red curry paste *

500g boneless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces OR turkey leftovers

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

salt to taste

1 lime, juice only

600ml chicken stock

250g egg noodles (dry or fresh)

 

Garnish

1 shallot, finely sliced

2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal

fresh red chilli, optional

fresh mint, 1 handful

fresh coriander 1 handful

crispy fried onions – I buy these from this website

 

  1. In an non-stick pan add one third of the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Move it around the pan, with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes by which time the milk will separate and little bubbles will form on the surface.
  2. Now you add the red curry paste and mix together until smooth with the coconut milk.
  3. Add the chicken and coat completely in the sauce. Move around the pan for a  few minutes, before adding the rest of the coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, chicken stock. Simmer gently for 12 minutes. Taste test and add a little salt and/or sugar as necessary. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice.
  4. Meanwhile boil water in another pan and add the egg noodles, and cook according to the pack. Normally only takes a few minutes.
  5. Strain the noodles and then plate up in the following order. Make sure you have deep bowls – or pasta bowls will work well.
  6. Place the noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Next add some chicken/turkey. Next carefully ladle the liquid into the bowl and then scatter the garnishes on top – or place on the table for people to serve themselves.

 

 

To make your own red curry paste

You will need:

3 red bird’s eye chillies

2 shallots, peeled

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tbsp galangal or ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp coriander stems, chopped

1 tbsp kaffir lime zest or 2 lime leaves, finely chopped

1 tbsp shrimp paste

1 tbsp lemongrass, chopped

  1. Blend all the ingredients together in a mini blender or pestle and mortar to form a paste. You won’t need to add any water as the juice from the galangal/ginger should provide this.

 


Bang Bang Chicken Salad – the perfect family summer salad

If you are after an easy chicken salad that is adored by the whole family, takes minimum fuss to throw together and is packed on flavour and texture, then look no further. Chinese inspired ‘Bang Bang chicken’ has it all and is perfect when the weather is hot and you want something light. My whole family absolutely love it.

I am a huge fan of Pip & Nut peanut, almond and cashew butters – have you tried them? I found their ‘crunchy maple peanut butter’ worked so well with the recipe. (I am not paid to say this ;o) You can find them in most supermarkets now as well as health food shops such as Holland & Barrett.

Don’t stress if you can’t get hold of any – regular crunchy peanut butter will also work well.

The only ingredient that I can imagine may receive a ‘sigh’  or ‘where can I find them’ is Sichuan peppercorns. They are now super easy to find online and I have provided a link below. They are definitely one of my store cupboard favourites as the taste is just heavenly, to put it mildly. If you really can’t be bothered with tracking them down then just use regular black peppercorns this time.

 

 

Bang Bang Chicken

Part 1

450g skinless chicken breasts, chopped in two

500ml chicken stock (fresh or Knorr chicken stock pot works well)

2 star anise

1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorns

1 tsp salt

25g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

 

*********

Part 2

1 large carrot, peeled and thickly grated

1 cucumber, sliced lengthways and then chopped into small bite size chunks

1 large handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks

2 limes

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Part 3

130g crunchy peanut butter – I think the best is ‘Pip & Nut and they do one which is ‘crunchy maple peanut butter’ which I like to use here

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

 

Optional

1 fresh red chilli, finely diced

 

 

  1. Place all the ingredients in ‘part 1’ into a pan and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, so that the chicken is cooked.
  2. Slice and dice all the ingredients, apart from the lime, in ‘part 2’ and place in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze 1 lime onto the salad ingredients.
  3. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and place to one side. Keep the cooking stock, but strain it and place in a small jug.
  4. Using a fork shred the chicken and then place into the large mixing bowl with the ingredients from ‘part 2’.
  5. Place all the ingredients in ‘part 3’ together and then add an additional 100ml of the cooking stock from the chicken. Gradually add to the the sauce so that it is less thick and more the consistency of cream.
  6. Add half the sauce to the mixing bowl and gently mix the ingredients together.
  7. Plate up and then add an extra spoonful of sauce over each serving as desired.
  8. Top with chilli, for those who like chilli, and place a lime quarter on each plate for added zing.

 

Freeze the rest of the stock for use another time as it tastes so good. 


The Art of Parsi Cooking and Chicken Badami

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Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be invited to the book launch of Niloufer Mavalvala’s new cookbook ‘The Art of Parsi Cooking’. To be honest, whilst I had clearly heard of parsi cooking, I was not very familiar with the minutiae of the cuisine. Her book focuses on ‘reviving an ancient cuisine’ which she has done by compiling a range of family loved recipes.

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Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Niloufer now resides in Canada and has done so for the past 15 years.  Her book gives a wonderful overview on the history of the Parsi people and their cuisine that they adapted to their local environs. Originally from Persia, Parsis were followers of the Prophet Zarathushtra. Between the 8th and 10th centuries, many fled Persia and headed for India, landing on the shores of Gujarat, where many of them settled. Interestingly the ‘Pars’ from Parsis means Iran. In many respects the cuisine is an amalgamation of Persian and Indian and does have a very distinct flavours. Niloufer talks about ingredients such as ‘saffron, jaggery, cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric’ are all key ingredients in Parsi cooking along side the trinity of garlic, ginger and chillies.

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I love to read cookery books were the recipes have been passed down generations, it’s as if we privy to the inner circles culinary magic. For years I have been after a good korma recipe that holds it’s weight amount curries. I have found them too creamy and often too bland. Niloufer has a wonderful recipe called ‘ Chicken Badami – Almond and Yoghurt Curry’ which will knock your socks off. If you want it less chilli hot then I recommend reducing or taking out the fresh chillies, but for me I like to have a bit of bite within the curry. The Parsi version of this recipe omits excess oil and instead uses ground almonds and yoghurt. It’s very straightforward and whilst mine is not as red in colour as Niloufer’s in the book, it tastes truly wonderful.

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Over the christmas period, many of us are with friends and family over the christmas week. Whilst I love all the traditional food, after about day 3 I crave spice and I think this might be a great one to feed your loved ones. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly as Niloufer uses cups for measurements and most recipes in the UK are in grams and I have added a few more tomatoes, despite mine still not being as red in colour as hers. Otherwise I have remained close to her recipe.

Her book is original, refreshing and lovingly compiled and would make a great gift for those seeking out Parsi recipes. It is fairly compact in size with no more than 40 recipes, but that is more than enough to provide interest and intrigue in the cuisine.  You can order it online here. It is published by Austin Macauley Publishers . Next up for me is masala na khekra – pan fried crabs with spices.

Chicken Badami

adapted from The Art of Parsi Cooking by Niloufer Mavalvala

Serves 6

2 tbsp oil

1 dried bay leaf

1 tsp of freshly grated garlic (paste)

1 tsp of freshly ground ginger (paste)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

10-12 chicken pieces, on the bone and skinned (I find thighs and legs work well)

3 medium sized tomatoes

4 green chillies

230 ml water

245g natural yoghurt with a pinch of salt and sugar

60g ground almonds

1/2 tsp garam masala

  1. Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and place to one side.
  2. In a large deep pan add the oil, on a low heat,  and when it is hot add the bay leaf, ginger, garlic, salt, red chilli, cumin, coriander and turmeric powders and move around the pan and then add the chicken pieces. Continue to move around the pan at intervals so that the spices do not burn.
  3. In a blender add the tomatoes, green chillies and blend to form a smooth paste before adding a little water.
  4. Once the chicken has changed colour add the tomato, chilli paste along with the water and bring to the boil. Cover and cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes, by which time the chicken will have cooked through and the gravy will have thickened up and reduced. Niloufer recommends cooking until there is about 1 cup of gravy remaining or thereabouts.
  6. Let it cool completely.
  7. In a bowl mix the natural yoghurt with a pinch of salt and sugar as well as the ground almonds.
  8. Once the chicken has cooled add the natural yoghurt mixture.
  9. Gently reheat, sprinkle with garam masala powder and then serve. Serve naan alongside.

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons – one of my favourite dishes to feed a crowd

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Cooking for 6+ guests always requires a bit of thought and forward planning. You typically want something that is relatively fuss free, that you can pop in the oven and leave to cook. I have a very open planned kitchen so if I am prepping veg, talking and raising a glass at the same time it can become a little overwhelming. I prefer to plan ahead and then enjoy my guests company once they arrive without being frantic in the kitchen.

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Moroccan food is a great people pleaser and tasty all year round. It’s spices are delicate, fragrant but not hot spicy; think along the lines of cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, saffron and paprika. They are perfect gently marinaded and cooked with some tender chicken thighs or even some lamb. Olives and preserved lemons are synonymous with Moroccan cuisine and are key for this recipe. I need to do a post on preserved lemons so those of you who live in places where preserved lemons are hard to source you can make your own and store them.

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The marinading can be overnight or in the fridge or for an hour or so if you are working to a tight deadline. The part that takes the longest is browning off the chicken thighs. You want to leave them for about 5 minutes each side so that both sides are nicely bronzed. Then you place them to one side on kitchen paper whilst you prepare and cook the onions. I cook my chicken thighs in batches as I don’t want to overcrowd the pan.

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You can cook the whole dish on the stove, however I often find it is easier to place in a preheated oven for around 30 minutes so that the chicken thighs are sufficiently cooked and moist and all the flavours have blended together to create the most delicious of dishes.

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I tend to serve with spiced rice or couscous with pomegranates, slithered almonds or pistachio nuts and fresh coriander or parsley. It is always best to cook more than you need as seconds is pretty much guaranteed or if you feeding a reserved bunch then at least you have lots of lovely leftovers for another day. It’s a win win.

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Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons

Serves 6-8

2.7kg chicken thighs, skin removed

2 heaped tbsp garlic paste

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp of olive oil

3 medium sized white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp of saffron threads

1 tsp of ground turmeric

370g green olives, stonned

1 fresh lemon

6 preserved lemons, quartered

1.  Remove excess skin from the chicken and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the garlic paste, paprika (I love using this one), cumin, black pepper and half the olive oil. Smother the chicken completely with the paste and leave covered in the fridge for a few hours, or even overnight if you are being organised.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a casserole dish or shallow pan. Add the pieces of chicken so that they are golden on both sides – this may need to be done in stages. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with kitchen roll so as to soak up the oil.

4. Add the chopped onion to the oil, add more oil if you feel it is necessary. When the onion is golden, add the saffron, turmeric and olives and let it simmer for a few minutes.

5. Pour the juice of the fresh lemon over the pan along with 200ml/7 fl oz of cold water. Add the preserved lemons at this stage. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer. If you find there is too much liquid then increase the heat again to reduce the liquid.

6. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

7. In a couple of ovenproof dishes spread out the chicken and pour over the onion, olive, preserved lemon and juice equally. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the chicken will be sufficiently cooked and ready to serve.

8. Serve with either couscous, pomegranates, almond slithers and fresh coriander or cinnamon rice with brown lentils – both work equally well.

You can cook the chicken ahead of time and then simply heat up gently in the oven for 10-15 minutes (add a little extra water to keep it juicy) then serve.


Keralan Chicken Stew

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Recently my family and I spent the day with a local Keralan family in Cochin: Lt. Col. Mathens, Moly and Philip. The intention was to spend the day with them cooking and eating so you can imagine how excited I was about this. After a good hours drive from our hotel we arrived at their house, still in Cochin but away from the old centre.

Before the cooking began we were given a guided tour of their garden, which grew all manner of spices, vegetables and fruit. They had planted this magnificent oasis themselves when they had bought the property some years before. It had been shrub land, but with such fertile soil, sunny weather and good rains in the monsoon, the vegetable garden had thrived beyond belief. There was no reason to go to the market to buy fresh produce as they had such a bounty waiting for them in the garden.

How many of the above can you recognise? Let me know in the comments box below.

We were showed at least thirty different vegetables, fruit and spices and to see them growing in their natural habitat was hugely memorable – although looking back through my photographs I cannot be certain about a couple of the plants. A return trip is necessary perhaps to further my education? Any excuse really!

After our garden tour we made our way to the kitchen where Moly explained the different dishes we would be cooking and the others she had prepared earlier that would accompany our feast.

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One of the dishes she showed us was her Keralan chicken stew. A couple of things that stood out with the way that she actually prepared the stew.

Firstly it was cooked on the bone, like all authentic curries should. Secondly she add the coconut milk in two stages. To begin with she added the thin coconut milk and at the very end she added the thicker, creamer coconut. The third point was that she added the thin coconut milk when some of the chicken was still pink. She did not measure anything as such, so I frantically took notes as to the approximate amount she was adding into her stew.

It does have a chilli kick to it with pepper, cardamom and clove notes resonating through the dish. By all means reduce the amount of chillies to suit your palate. I added a teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder, but this is not necessary and looking back in my notes I don’t believe Moly added it so for the recipe below I have omitted it although when I was testing the recipe I did add it, hence the photos have a red/orange hue to the dish. Yours will not have this in quite the same way if you follow the recipe below.

She did not measure out the coconut milk, but as it generously covered the chicken I think she must have used the equivalent of two tins of coconut milk or thereabouts. I find some brands of coconut milk have a thick creamy coconut milk at the top and a more water milk at the bottom. If you can try and get hold of these types of coconut milk.

Keralan Chicken Stew

serves 6

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 red onions , finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

7 Kashmiri chillies

2 potatoes cubed

1 whole chicken (approx 1.2kg) skinned and chopped into 10-12 pieces

1tsp cardamom seeds

4 little pieces of cinnamon bark

1 1/2tsp fresh ground black pepper

10 cloves

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger powder

400ml tin of coconut milk

160ml tin of coconut cream

  1. In a deep pan – I find my Le creuset casserole works well – add the coconut oil. When it is hot add the mustard seeds and move around the pan for 10 seconds before adding the onion, garlic and dried chillies. Leave to cook in the pan for 3 minutes. Keep on a medium low heat.
  2. Now add the cubed potatoes and stir into the other ingredients and allow to cook away for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and stir before placing the lid on the pan for 5 minutes. Some of the chicken will have whitened but do not be alarmed if some of the chicken is still a little pink at this stage.
  4. Add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon bark, ginger powder and black pepper.
  5. Add the coconut milk and the salt. Put the lid back on the pan and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring at intervals.
  6. Test to see that the potato is soft and the chicken is cooked. Add more salt if necessary.
  7. At the very end turn the heat down very low and add the coconut cream and stir into the stew. It is important that you do not let it boil as the coconut cream will split.

Serve with rice, luchi, chapati or the traditional Keralan appam.

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Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

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Christmas beckons and you are now, most probably, all sorted on what you are going to cook over the coming days, well on Christmas day at least. I don’t know about you but I find the week between Christmas and New Year is filled with feasting and if you have family or friends stopping by you want no fuss food that tastes divine with minimum preparation effort.

This is where my sautéed chicken livers come in. They are so darn tasty and can be rustled up in 10 minutes. Seriously folks, 10 minutes and you have a perfect appetiser or relaxed lunch. If you have a mental block over chicken livers I urge you to put it to side this once and dive right in. Sauteed in Madeira and capers these chicken livers are totally transformed and I love the flavours coming from the crunchy red onions and fresh flat leaf parsley. Served on toasted sourdough and you have yourself a real treat.

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If, like me, you adore chicken livers then do try my chicken liver curry here.

I’m going to be checking out now until mid January, but you can find me on Instagram and twitter as I work my way around Kerala in Southern India. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year full of festive cheer, merriment and of course feasting.

I’ll be back in 2016 with lots of Keralan treats to share with you.

Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

Serves 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 banana shallot, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

400g chicken livers

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp Madeira or Sherry

2 tbsp capers

1 red onion finely sliced

a generous handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

4 this slices of sourdough bread, toasted under the grill on both sides

  1. Turn on the grill so that it is ready to toast your sourdough bread in a few minutes.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and then add the diced shallot and garlic.
  3. After 3 minutes add the chicken livers and a little salt and pepper and let them brown in colour. Gently turn them over so that they heat through evenly. This will take around 6 minutes.
  4. Whilst the livers are browning, slice the red onion and remove the leaves of the flat leaf parsley. Place to one side.
  5. Place the  sourdough bread on a baking tray and lightly sprinkle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Grill it so that it is lightly bronzed on both sides. It happens quickly so keep an eye on it.
  6. Add the Madeira and capers and gently moved around the pan. Turn the heat down and simmer for a further couple of minutes.
  7. To plate up cut the toasted sourdough in half and lay evenly on a serving plate. Sprinkle with a few red onions and parsley. Lay the chicken livers and capers over the toast and then scatter with a little more red onions and parsley.

Eat immediately so that it is still hot.

 


Gong Bao Ji Ding – aka Chinese Chicken with Facing Heaven Bullet Chillies

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So the story goes that back in the Qing Dynasty the governor of Sichuan, ‘Gong Bao’, had a deep fondness for this dish so they named it after him. The ‘Ji Ding’ part translates as “chicken cut into small cubes” and to this day it is one of the most ubiquitous Chinese dishes eaten in both mainland China and in the West. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Kung Pao Chicken’ so keep a look out for this name as well.

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The lovely people over at World of Zing sent me some dried chillies recently with fabulous sounding names: Dragons Back, Facing Heaven Bullet and Chinese White Hunan. I pondered for some time over which one to sample first and facing heaven bullet won out. They are so called because the pepper grows with the fruit pointing upwards to the ‘heavens’ unlike most chilli peppers, which face downwards.

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Bullet in shape, they are often kept whole in cooking or cut in half once. Removing some or all of the seeds prior to cooking reduces the heat of the chilli, whilst still retaining a tantalising zing.  To give you some idea of heat, it is far milder than a Thai birds eye chilli.  It won’t be the case of running to the fridge for a glass of milk!

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This dish wins prizes on speed of delivery and flavour. Seriously even if you are shattered after a hard days slog this will raise your spirits. Give it a go and remember to come back and comment to let me know how you got on.

Gong Bao Ji Ding – Chinese Chicken with Facing Heaven Bullet Chillies

Serves 2-3

420g chicken breasts (works out as 3 breasts) skin removed, cut into strips then into 1 inch cubes

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 inches of fresh ginger, skinned and roughly chopped to the same size as the garlic

5 spring onions, white part only chopped to the size of the chicken cubes

10 facing heaven bullet chillies, halved and seeds removed

1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns

80g peanuts, dry roast them for 5 minutes

2 tbsp ground nut oil (or equivalent)

****

Marinade

3 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp Shaoxing wine

2 tsp cornflour

****

Sauce

1 and a half tsp cornflour

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp cold water

1. First prepare the chicken and then place in a bowl. Prepare the marinade in a separate bowl and then pour onto the chicken pieces and leave to rest whilst you prepare the rest of the dish.

2. Dry roast the peanuts in a frying pan for 5 minutes so that they bronze slightly.

3. Next prepare the garlic, ginger, spring onions and chilli and place to one side.

4. Prepare the sauce ingredients in a bowl and place to one side.

5. Heat a large pan or wok with the oil and when it is hot add the chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. Move them around the pan for 15 seconds before adding the cubed chicken. Keep the chicken moving around on a high heat so that it cooks through completely.

6. After a couple of minutes, and the chicken has whitened, add the spring onions, garlic and ginger continuing to move all the ingredients around the pan/wok. After 3 more minutes the chicken should be cooked completely. Cut through a large piece to check it is cooked through (if it needs a minute more continue cooking at a high heat), before adding the sauce and mixing it through completely.

7. Cook for a further minute before adding the peanuts. Coat them in the sauce and stir through a couple of times.

Serve immediately with some steamed rice.

Thanks to World of Zing for providing me with the chillies. 


Simple Chicken Curry – when your spice cupboard is bare

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If you are starting out cooking curries or if you are running low on spices, then this is the curry for you as it only requires chilli powder – I tend to opt for the Kashmiri chilli powder for it’s deep red colour and its subtle heat. It also includes onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and chillies, which are pretty much fridge staples for me and I’m guessing you too! So it is ridiculously straightforward to make with minimum fuss.

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I like to use boneless and skinless chicken thighs for this curry, but breast meat is fine too – it’s really up to you. Like with most curries it can be cooked well in advance and then slowly reheated adding a little water if necessary. You can reduce the amount of fresh chillies if you want it less hot, but I find adding two fresh green chillies is fine for my 9 year old – I would cook a separate curry however for my 5 year old.

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Simple Chicken Curry

Serves 4

9 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 red onions, roughly chopped

2 inch piece of ginger, skin removed and roughly chopped

2 fresh chillies, roughly chopped

4 medium sized tomatoes roughly chopped

1 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder

2tbsp water

*****

2 tsp groundnut oil

800g boneless and skinless chicken thigh, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 tsp salt

coriander to garnish (optional)

1. Using a blender add the garlic, onions, chillies, tomatoes, ginger and chilli powder. Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are you may need to add a little water to make the paste smooth.

2. Heat the groundnut oil in a pan and add the chicken. Move it around the pan for a couple of minutes so that it whitens. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place to one side.

3. Using the same pan add the paste and gently fry for 45 minutes so that it thickens and allows the flavours to come through.

4. Return the chicken to the pan and add the salt. Simmer gently for a further 7 minutes, coating the chicken in the spiced tomato sauce.

5. Serve with a coriander garnish with either rice or flat bread.

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