While a jar of Patak’s curry paste is a convenient midweek option, there is no mistaking the difference in flavour using the made-from-scratch method.  The more I do it, the more I want to steer clear of sodium-laden store bought varieties.  It may take slightly longer but really, spooning a few spices out of a jar and grating some ginger and garlic takes a few minutes longer. The sense of pride, having made your family a healthier option is almost as good as the flavour and lets face it… know exactly what is in it.  This two step curry can be made before work and finished after work and I guarantee the meltingly tender chicken in a  ‘real’ spicy, yoghurty sauce accompanied by subtly scented rice is sooo worth it!  There really is no going back…..

Ps:  Don’t be alarmed by the amount of chilli, by the time it has marinated and is cooked it is just a lovely little bit of warmth……like a blanket.

Prep time:  30  Minutes            Cooking & Marinating time:  8 Hours 30 Minutes           $  Low Budget

Serves 4-6

800gm of chicken thigh fillets, chopped into bite sized chunks

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp of salt

1 tbs of finely grated ginger

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed

1 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of chilli powder

1 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of garam masala

4 tbs of pure cream

For the Masala Sauce:

Olive oil for frying

1 large brown onion, halved and sliced top to bottom

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 tbs of finely grated ginger

1 tbs of ground coriander

1 tsp of cumin seeds

2 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of turmeric

4 tbs of yoghurt

1 cup of water

2 large ripe tomatoes, diced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp of garam masala

1 bag of baby spinach leaves

1/2 bunch of coriander, roughly chopped (thoroughly washed)

Sea salt and cracked pepper

1 diced tomato, coriander leaves, greek yoghurt and lemon wedges for garnish

Roti bread or pappadoms to serve

For the Rice:

11/2 cups of basmati rice

21/4 cups of water

Grated rind of 1 lemon

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Place the chicken fillets in a bowl with the salt and lemon juice and stir to combine.  Set aside for 20 minutes.  (Go and blow dry your hair or make the kids lunches).  Add the ginger, garlic, spices and cream and stir well so that all the thigh fillets are coated in the creamy mixture, cover with cling wrap and pop in the fridge for at least 6 hours but the longer the better.

Had a nice day at work?

Heat a large pan or saucepan and add a little oil.  Lightly fry the onion until just starting to soften and then add the chilli, ginger and garlic.  Fry until aromatic and then add the cumin seeds, coriander, paprika and turmeric.  Fry for a minute or so and then add one tablespoon of the yoghurt, stir to combine with the spices (the mixture will be a little dry but don’t worry) and repeat with the remaining yoghurt, one tablespoon at a time.  It is important to do this as it will stop the mixture splitting.  Once all the yoghurt is added, pour in the water, tomatoes and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes and add a little more water if you think the sauce is drying out too much

Preheat the oven to 200°C and place the grill on high if it is integrated (if not the just put the grill on high).  Remove the chicken from the fridge and spread the pieces out on a large lined baking tray.  Discard any leftover marinade and  bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and charred in some places, turning the chicken pieces half way through.  Remove from the oven and add it to the sauce, juices and all and stir to combine.  Pop a lid on and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Place the rice, water and grated lemon rind in a saucepan and season generously with salt and a little pepper.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Simmer for 12 minutes, covered and then remove from the heat and allow to stand for at least five minutes with the lid on. When ready to serve, squeeze some lemon juice over the rice and fluff it with a fork.

Pop the baby spinach and coriander in the sauce and cover with a lid.  Allow the spinach to wilt for a couple of minutes and then stir it through the sauce.

To serve, spoon the rice into a 1 cup capacity ramekin and invert it onto a serving plate.  This is my preferred method or else just spoon the rice into a bowl, totally up to you.  Repeat with the remaining plates.  Divide the curry between the plates, spooning it around the rice.  Top with a dollop of yoghurt,  a sprinkling of fresh tomato and coriander sprigs.  Serve with a wedge of lemon and roti or pappadoms