My Chicken Curry

I used to love my Mum’s simple chicken curry with its distinctive flavour of green peppers and whole spices. Ironically though, when visiting my parents’ home, Mum would often ask me to make ‘my’ chicken curry to give her respite from her own cooking.

Now let’s get this right, my version of chicken curry is based on a combination of ingredients from two different cultures. As with many of my recipes, my Bengali roots call for the use of  ‘panch phoron’ (five spice mix), which (to me) lends the curry a nostalgic flavour, vaguely reminiscent of my grandma’s cooking. However, the use of fried onions and yoghurt is more akin to a Pakistani-style Korma, very much influenced by my mother-in-law’s cookery which I was introduced to more than some 20 years ago…

I have replaced the whole spices used in my Mum’s original recipe with my home ground garam masala (owing to the somewhat fussy eating habits in my household) and substituted the green peppers with red ones to lend the curry a subtle, yet natural sweetness. It is a simple recipe, surprisingly bursting with flavour, blog-worthy for it classic simplicity.

Ingredients

  • 1 large chicken breast, cut into chunky piecesMy Chicken Curry
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1/3 cup fried onions (store bought or home made)
  • 1 tsp panch phoron
  • 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp – 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp -3/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • 4 tbsp natural low fat Greek style yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup hot water

How to cook

  1. Heat the oil gently then add the panch phoron.
  2. Wait for the seeds to sizzle, then add the chicken.
  3. Stir the chicken over a medium heat until the pieces are all sealed.
  4. Stir in the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for 5 mins.
  5. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli and saute for another 5 minutes or until the oil separates from the spices (add a little water during this stage if the mixture becomes too dry).
  6. Add the tomatoes and peppers and turn up the heat a little. Allow to cook uncovered for another 2-3 mins.
  7. Meanwhile, pour the yoghurt into a small bowl, add the fried onions, salt and garam masala and whisk the yoghurt until smooth.
  8. Lower the heat and slowly stir in the yoghurt and onion mixture into the pan.
  9. Turn the heat up again and cook for another 2-3 mins.
  10. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for a minute.
  11. Add the water and bring to boil.
  12. Stir and cover and leave to cook for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.

Serve with steamed rice or a fragrant Zeera Rice like I have here.

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Bengali Fish Curry

The simplicity of this basic Bengali fish curry is its greatest appeal. It is mouth-wateringly flavoursome and when served with boiled rice is indulgently reminiscent of my mother’s cooking…

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Cooking Time: approx. 45 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

FOR THE FISH

  • 6-8 medium pieces white fish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder

FOR THE CURRY

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 heaped tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 2 green chillies cut lengthwise and deseeded (if not using chilli powder)
  • 1 large tomato cubed
  • 4 medium new potatoes cut lengthwise
  • handful of fresh chopped coriander leaves

How to cook

  1. Place fish in a large boil and rub in the dry spices. Cover and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil gently and add the onions. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in cumin seeds, then add bay leaf, salt and ginger. Stir and cover. Allow to cook until onions are softened.
  4. Add tomatoes, potatoes, turmeric, coriander, paprika, chilli powder (if using) and green chillies. Stir well for 30 seconds.
  5. Add 1/2 cup boiled water, stir and cover. Cook until onions and tomato are mashable and potatoes are cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile place the fish under a medium grill and cook for 10 minutes, turning over once. Be careful not to overcook the fish to avoid drying out.
  7. Check the gravy mixture and mash the onions and tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Add a little more boiled water if necessary to create a runny gravy and bring to boil.
  8. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the fish with a fish slice, a piece at a time. Carefully pour in the juices on the grill pan. Immediately turn over the each piece of fish.
  9. Add more boiled water to create more gravy if desired. Turn up the flame and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  10. Garnish with chopped coriander and cover to allow to set.