I was preparing to make a simple salad for the blog this week. A combination of finely sliced sprouts, caramelised roasted sweet potato and lightly toasted pecans, all drizzled with a light lemony herb dressing. Fresh, crisp, full of flavour, I thought it was just the thing to help boost the immune system and banish the January blues. Then I looked out the window. It’s freezing cold, wet and miserable here, the sky is grey and each time I venture out I have to wrap my hands in whatever wool is to hand (that will be a pair of gloves then) and pace to my destination, breathing puffs of frozen air into my scarf to keep my lower face warm. Lovely as I know it will be – and I may well work on it a little later - I don’t want a salad to eat, I want something warming, nourishing and hot! Curry is the answer, of course it is – who, after all, doesn’t love a curry?
This is the quickest and easiest of curries: with a little prep, a little more marinating and a blast of cooking you have a delicious, rich and fragrant dish which I think does more for body and soul in January than any raw salad or seaweed juice ever could. I’ve chosen to use chicken thighs because I think they hold the best flavour, but feel free to use whatever cut or indeed meat that you like. The spices are a simple blend and are in no way gospel. Use whatever you have and miss out whatever you haven’t - that’s the beauty of making a curry; you can flavour it to whatever heights you like. I like this combination of spices and I think the coconut milk is key, adding creaminess and a buttery note. You could however use cashew nuts to thicken the sauce, as I’ve done here in this Lamb Korma. Serve with white basmati rice and a handful of coriander leaves – it’ll keep the cold and blues at bay.
SIMPLE CHICKEN AND COCONUT CURRY
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
1 large white onion
2 cloves of garlic
½ tin coconut milk
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
½ - 1 tsp chilli powder – depending on how hot you like it
½ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp tomato puree
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp groundnut oil
A bunch of fresh coriander
Stir together the coconut milk, lemon juice and all of the spices in a large mixing bowl until blended. Make a few diagonal cuts, about 1cm deep, on each chicken thigh and then place them in the marinade, leave to marinate for 2 – 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220c (200c Fan). Finely slice the garlic and cut the onion into thin half moons. Heat the oil in a large, shallow heavy based casserole, fry the onion and garlic until softened and just starting to colour. Add the chicken thighs and sauce into the casserole, season well and then bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes. Serve on a bed of basmati rice with a scattering of torn coriander leaves over the top.