OK, so my love affair with Indian began several years ago when a friend of mine organised a cooking class with Ajoy Joshi, he of Nilgiri’s restaurant fame. At his restaurant he changes the menu every three months to showcase all the regions of India. His food is complex, delicate, sophisticated and delicious. He is a LEGEND in terms of dragging the India food scene in Australia forward by a hundred years. On top of that, he is THE MOST lovely guy.
Anyway, his cooking class completely demystified Indian food for me and I was hooked.
Now forget the cloying butter chicken from the bain marie and brace yourself for something from a different realm.
This recipe takes time and there is a huge list of ingredients. I break it down, marinating the chicken the day before and then making the sauce and assembling the dish the next day.
You can make it as hot or as mild as you like, I tend to put in the full amount of chilli powder in the marinade and then less chilli powder and green chilli in the sauce so it’s more palatable to all the kids.
Embrace the mis en place. Get everything ready before you start cooking. I measure out the spices into a little saucer/dish so when it comes to adding them it’s just put it all in from a dish rather than farnarkling around with teaspoon measures.
Prepare the garlic and ginger in bulk. I have one of those mini blitzing bowl things (technical term) that attaches to my stick blender. I peel a whole head or two of garlic, blitz it and then put in a ramekin. Ditto for a piece of ginger. Even if you have some left over, cover what’s left with a layer of olive oil, wrap in clingfilm and keep it in the fridge. Sorted.
Use your food processor to chop the onions and blitz the tomatoes.
When I say cook the onions for 20 minutes I really mean it – they need to be a deep caramel colour.
The main thing to remember here is to just take your time, the end result is totally worth it.
This is out of Nige’s latest, Nigella Express, and I was keen to give it a go because a) it was quick, b) it didn’t use any ingredients you wouldn’t normally find in my cupboard on any given day and c) the picture was purdy.
Pollo alla Cacciatoro Nigella Lawson, Nigella Express
1tbsp garlic oil
75g pancetta cubes
6 spring onions, finely sliced
1tbs rosemary, finely chopped
500g chicken thigh fillets, each cut into four pieces
1/2tsp celery salt
125ml white wine
1x400g can chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1x400g can cannellini beans (optional)
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the pancetta cubes, spring onions and rosemary for a couple of minutes
Add the chicken pieces and celery salt
Pour in the wine and let it come to a bubble before adding the tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar
Put the lid on and let it simmer for 20 minutes
Drain the cannellini beans and add to the pan to heat through
Serve with a green salad and/or steamed rice – I served it with my foccacia and a green salad.
The idea of cooking sausages with chicken seemed excessive to me. But somehow it all works and is now on high rotation in this household (with leftover sausages going into sandwiches the next day and chicken into a salad for dinner the following night)
One Pan Sage and Onion Chicken and Sausage
2kg chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or 10 drumsticks or thigh pieces or whatever you choose)
12 chipolata sausages (she suggests anything from a traditional English sausage, to Italian or Chorizo)
1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths
1 lemon, juiced and rind cut into eighths
125ml olive oil
1tbsp dried sage leaves
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2tsp English mustard
2tbsp fresh sage leaves
put all the marinade ingredients in a large snap-lock bag and squidge everything together (I love this Nigella tip as it cuts down on washing up and lets your really mush the marinade into the meat)
add the chicken and really mush the marinade and chicken together and marinate for as long as you have or up to two days
Preheat oven to 220C
All chicken to come to room temperature in the marinade
Arrange chicken pieces in a roasting tin, skin side up, with the marinade, and tuck the sausages in around them
Sprinkle over the fresh sage leaves and cook for 1hour and 15 minutes, turning the sausages halfway through to colour them evenly.
Delicious with a crisp green salad or potatoes dauphinois
I’m not posting a roast chicken recipe. Everyone has their favourite. But I will say this, basically 20 minutes for each side at 200C. Go see Joke if you want all manner of brines and rinses and entertaining reads on moist breasts.
I love experimenting with roast chicken. I mean, see here (that’s the roast chicken with cankles)and here for two examples. Monday was no different. I had ricotta that had to be used, left over rice from Sunday night and a hankering for pine nuts. These are rough quantities – it made a lot of stuffing. I stuffed the cavity, between the breast meat and skin and in the pocket between the thigh and the breast.
Leek, ricotta and pinenut stuffing
1 leek, finely sliced
2 zucchinis, grated
1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped
About 4oog of ricotta
Probably about 1 cup of cooked rice
a good handful of pinenuts
juice of half a lemon
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
4-6 sprigs flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
heat a frypan over medium high heat, spray with oil, saute the leeks until softened
add zucchinis and garlic and cook for a few minutes, then remove from heat and cool slightly
So this might not look the best, but the flavour was sensational. Because we’re I’m currently in the midst of Project Boombalardy, I took most of the skin off as the WW recipe that inspired this said to do, but if you’re just a sane rational person with no emotional issues regarding food, just rub it over the chicken. Maybe rub some up under the skin as well just for even more flavour. That said, taking the skin off the chicken I mean, I was amazed at how much fat still came off the bird (I didn’t bother taking the underside skin off.
Spice-rubbed roast chicken
1 chicken, cut down the backbone and pressed flat
1 tbs sumac
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 lemon – finely grated zest and the juice
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
Combine all the spices with the lemon zest, juice and the youghurt
Rub into the chicken
Marinade for as long as you’ve got (I did it for a couple of hours, I reckon overnight would be sensational)
Preheat oven to 200C
Place the chicken breast down in a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes
Turn and roast for a further 25 minutes
Great with tabouli Low-fat high-flavour tabouli
1/2 cup cracked wheat
4 sun-dried tomatoes, finely sliced
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cups flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
Soak the cracked wheat and sun-dried tomatoes in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes then drain well
Combine with grated zest of the lemon and juice of half the lemon