Chicken Mint Curry

Turns out that there’s at least one other Kay in Islington. Who knew?! And thanks to her and someone named Paul L on Streetlife I decided to do some research and experiment with mint curry. English mint is abundant at the moment, and if you don’t have any in a window box or garden, the Market Garden has plenty.

The experiment turned out rather well, even if I say so myself. (Actually, Bruno, Sean and David also said so).  It takes quite a lot of prep so if you’re looking for a quick meal, this is not for you. But if you’re looking for an afternoon in the company of the lovely smells and colours of mint, coriander and spices, here you go….

INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PEOPLE

For the mint paste

Bunch of mint. (If you’re picking your own, a “bunch” is about 10 stalks.)

1/2 bunch of coriander leaf

1 small onion chopped very finely

4 garlic cloves

4 small green chillis (less if you don’t like things too spicy)

juice 1/2 lime

The rest:

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

about 3 cm piece of ginger root; peeled and grated

4 chicken breasts on the bone (chicken fillets cook faster, but are not as tasty).

4 medium tomatoes; blanched, peeled and chopped.

2 cloves

3 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil (I used a pale olive oil).

What to do, roughly speaking:

Fry the finely chopped onion in a little oil on a high heat for about 5 minutes. Keep it moving but let it get really well cooked and slightly caramelised.

Chop the herbs roughly, and the garlic and chilli finely.

Whizz all of this in a blender with the lime juice until it’s well mixed but not completely liquified.  If its too dry to work with, add a little water.

Cover the chicken breasts in this herb mix in a shallow bowl and leave for about 20 minutes. (see pic).

Raw chicken pieces coated in herb paste
Raw chicken pieces coated in herb paste

Mix the powdered spices (garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric) with a little water in a small bowl. In a large saucepan, heat some more vegetable oil and fry the spice paste until most of the liquid has evaporated. Then add the ginger root and chicken pieces and seal the chicken, turning the pieces so that all sides are slightly browned. You may need to add some more oil.

Scrape any remaining mint paste out of the bowl and add it to the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes, cloves, bayleaves and salt. If the tomatoes are not very juicy, add a little water. Bring to the boil, put the lid on the pan and simmer for about 40-50 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked by stabbing it at the fleshiest part with a knife, ease the flesh open and make sure that it’s white all the way through. (For a quicker cooking time use filleted chicken breasts – not so tasty, though). Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.

Before you serve (with rice) take out the bayleaves and cloves if you can find them. If you can’t find them, warn your guests. OR, don’t warn them, and watch to see the expression on the face of the first person to bite into a clove.

There are good green and yellow courgettes as well as mooli in The Market Garden this week, so along with the rice you could also serve this with Essex Road Recipe No 10 which is here; Potato, courgette and mooli curry

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