A tasty but mild curry for any occasion. Also very versatile - works equally well with diced lamb or beef instead of chicken. I prefer a higher ratio of veg to meat, but you can use more meat (up to 1kg) without changing the other elements if this is to your taste. Popular with kids as it has a lovely, aromatic curry flavour without heat, but the ingredients also accommodate added chilli for a spicier kick. Great for dinner guests as most of the prep can be done before they arrive, so you'll only be in the kitchen 5-10 minutes to finish off & serve.
Preparation Time: 20-30 minutes (plus 1 hour - overnight to marinade)
Cooking Time: 60-90 minutes
Makes: 6-8 generous servings, even more with extra meat. Any leftovers are still delicious the next day heated in microwave.
Ingredients 500g - 700g fresh chicken fillet (1 double chicken breast = approx 500g. Thighs work equally well).
500g plain Greek yoghurt
1 bunch fresh coriander
2 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground cardamon
2 Tbs olive or vegetable oil
2 large brown onions
2-3 large garlic cloves
2 tsp hot paprika
1-2 small chillis (optional)
500g peeled pumpkin (potatoes or kumara or combination of these is also fine)
4 large, ripe, juicy tomatoes
1/2 cauliflower (absorbs the flavours beautifully)
2 Tbsp tomato or vegetable paste (I prefer home-made but most supermarket brands are fine)
1 bunch English spinach (trimmed) or 400g spinach leaves
Salt & pepper to taste
Steamed rice &/ or warm naan bread to serve
Optional - to enhance the sense of occasion for a dinner party, make some additional condiments to serve - eg banana sprinkled with dessicated coconut, cucumber & mint raita etc.
Wash & pat dry the coriander. Take half, trim & chop coarsely (leaves & stem). Save the other half as you'll need it later for added flavour & garnish.
Combine the yoghurt, cumin, cardamon & turmeric in a medium-sized snap lock container.
Squeeze the lemon & add juice to the yoghurt mix, then stir in the chopped coriander & ensure that all the elements & flavours are combined.
On a separate board, dice the chicken into consistent, bite-size pieces, approx 2cm x 2cm.
Add the chicken to the yoghurt mix & stir through gently to ensure that all pieces of chicken are covered well in the mixture.
Put the lid on & refrigerate for 1 hour minimum, but the longer the better. Overnight is ideal to fully infuse the flavours.
Optional - finely grate the washed lemon peel & set aside to add to the onions later.
About 2 hours before planned serving time, wash the tomatoes, pumpkin, & trim & wash the cauliflower & spinach - set aside.
Dice the pumpkin into bite-sized pieces to match the chicken, ie approx 2 cm x 2cm - set aside.
Discard the base & outer leaves of the cauliflower, then chop the florets & stems into slightly smaller pieces - approx 1.5 cm x 1.5 cm - set aside.
Dice the tomatoes into small pieces of approx 1cm x 1cm - set aside.
Finely chop the onions & garlic - set aside.
If using chilli, wash, remove stalk & chop finely, including seeds. Always wash hands after handling chilli, particularly the seeds, to avoid getting chilli in your eyes.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan or stove-top casserole dish.
When the oil starts to bubble, add the onions & garlic. Sprinkle the paprika & a dash of celery salt over the onions & stir to combine.
When the onion starts to soften, add the chopped chilli &/ or grated lemon zest. Stir through to combine & cook through for approx 1 minute. Onion mix should stay glossy & soft - do not allow to stick or burn.
Add the chicken mixture, pumpkin, tomatoes & salt & pepper. Stir to combine & bring to the boil.
Add tomato/ vegetable paste, stir through & reduce heat to medium. Curry should be bubbling gently, uncovered, not a rolling boil. Stir occasionally.
After about 30 minutes, put the rice in the steamer, set & forget as the steamer will keep it hot until required.
After you organise the rice, add the cauliflower pieces to the curry mix.
Stir through & let it simmer for another 20-30 minutes or so, uncovered. Stir occasionally.
With 15 minutes to go, prepare optional condiments & naan bread if required.
Check the mixture for seasoning & adjust if necessary. I often throw in another handful of coarsely chopped coriander at this point for colour & flavour, but remember to save some whole leaves for garnishing (approx 3-6 leaves per serve).
Test a piece of meat - it should now be tender & juicy, but give it another few minutes if you think it's required.
When you're happy with the flavours & the meat, add the chopped spinach & stir through.
Turn off the heat & cover to wilt, but not overcook the spinach, while you dish up the rice.
Serve on top of the steamed rice, ensuring a good mix of the meat, vegatables & sauce on each plate. Add an extra dollop of yoghurt & a few coriander leaves to garnish & serve/ eat immediately.