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Monday, 18 July 2011

Baked Chicken & Aubergine Curry

This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Everyday" cookbook. However, the original version did not include vegetables, while I added okra to mine the very first time I made it, and aubergines this time around.  I instantly liked the idea of a baked curry dish as it leaves more room on the stove to cook the accompaniments, and the sauce tastes more intense. I advise you to make this a few hours before serving it and to let it rest, so that it develops more flavour; then re-heat in the oven when you are ready to sit down to dinner.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 people)
  • 2 heaped tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 heaped tsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 heaped tsp of fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp of ground fenugreek
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 small green chillies and a large red chilli, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • Sunflower oil
  • 4 chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks), skin on
  • 1 large aubergine, chopped in bite-size pieces
  • 400 gr tin of chopped tomatoes (I like Waitrose Organic, they taste like fresh Italian tomatoes to me!)
  • 400 ml tin of coconut milk
  • Salt & pepper
Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, then grind them using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Put the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Heat a little oil in an oven-proof pan or casserole, and fry the chicken pieces until they get some colour (turn them over a couple of times to ensure they are evenly browned). Then transfer them to a plate and reserve for later.

Tip off the excess chicken fat from the pan and add a little fresh oil; add the spices to the pan, fry them for a minute, then follow with the onion paste. Let the paste colour but not burn, use a gentle heat for this; you will need to stir it frequently and add a little water if it is sticking.

Next, add the tomatoes and coconut milk to the pan, mixing them well together, followed by the chopped aubergine.

Season with salt and pepper, then snuggle in your chicken pieces. Don't cover them completely with the sauce, otherwise the skin won't crisp up.

 Let them cook uncovered for 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180°C; then baste the chicken with the sauce until it's covered completely and let it cook for a further 20 minutes. Serve with steamed basmati rice and/or home made naan bread to mop up the lovely sauce.

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