Although I love ponsy food, in my eyes a good curry could possibly be one of the greatest foods around. OK, as a student who has the money to go and get a take away for around £8 a head eh? Afterall, less money spent on food, the more money spent on vodka. Works in my mind anyway. Making your own curry is also a lot healthier for start, and it means that you can be in charge of the heat and flavours. Sometimes the great thing about different Indian take aways is that your favourite curry is always different in flavour and style. But don’t you hate it when the sweet and fruity chicken jalfrezi you had from your Raj Mahal back home becomes a sloppy, greasy, orange mush at your local Indian round the corner of your student halls? So yes, there are tons of benefits from making this curry, many that I will continue to bang on about to all my mates.
This curry is pretty basic, but that’s the great thing about it. You can add whatever the hell you like to make it taste slightly different, and it’s also the basis for other curries like sweet potato and chickpea (I’ll show this as a variation at the bottom). I’ve used chicken thigh for this recipe as it’s a lot cheaper than breast, and you can’t over cook it as it’s slightly fattier. But if you want to be even healthier, use breast. It’s up to you! Please, please try this recipe, my mates love it, and it’s so cheap and easy but tastes brilliant and a lot healthier than a take away! The raita is great with this curry, it cools the spice but also adds nice flavour and texture. My mate Jamie loves it so much, anyone would think it’s laced with crack. The curry also only requires 2 pans and a bowl, so less washing up. Always a bonus.
A Simple Spicy Chicken Curry with Brown Rice and Raita (Optional)
Time: Around 1 hour
To Serve: 4 people with big appetites!
Cost: less than £4 a person
10 chicken thighs - they most come in packs of 5 for about £1.50 thereabouts, so buy 2 packs. But make sure they’re deboned. You can debone them yourself but for a hungover student most of the time you can’t be arsed.
1 large onion, or 2 small ones (about 30p?)
2 cloves of garlic
1 large red chilli (less if you don’t want it quite as hot)
2 tins of chopped tomatoes (about 16p a tin)
Large pack of brown rice (most of the time this can be cheaper than white rice. It’s crunchier and unbleached which means it’s better for you!)
Bunch of coriander
Oil, salt and pepper
These are the 4 basic spices you will need:
2 teaspoons Paprika
2 teaspoons Mustard Seeds
2 teaspoons Cumin
2 teaspoons Turmeric
You can buy these from any supermarket, even our local corner shop sells them. Don’t buy big branded ones though, they’re about £1.40 each for Schwarts ones when supermarket ones are half the price and exactly the same. Keep these in your cupboard and they will become your best mates!
For the Raita (Yoghurt with Coriander and Cucumber)
Natural yoghurt, just get a pot of the cheap supermarket stuff
Handful of coriander
Half a cucumber
Firstly get your pan of water boiling for your rice and put in 2 pinches of salt (this just gets the water boiling hotter). Now to start prepping the curry. Dice your onion(s) very small (I will be posting this as a technique soon), then peel and very finely chop your garlic cloves. Fry these together in a not stick saucepan (it needs to be fairly big) or a wok with a little oil. Just let the onions and garlic slowly soften but don’t let them burn, all it will do is make the curry bitter, we want it nice and sweet! At this point put in your mustard seeds. Some may start to pop because of the heat but that’s okay, it will add flavour. Add 2 tablespoons more oil into the pan and lower the heat, ready for the next stage.
Now add your spices into the pan, you don’t need to be massively precise with your measurements but stir the whole mixture after you added each teaspoon. The spices will begin to mix in with the onions and garlic and make a really nice base sauce for our chicken. Once all the spices are added hit the mixture with loads of salt and pepper, and take the pan off of the heat.
Now start to cut up your chicken thighs into nice big chunks. You can leave the skin on, it almost melts in your mouth after being cooked. It’ll easily peel off the meat if you don’t like the idea of it. Then bring the pan back up to a very high heat and then throw in your chicken. You want the pan to be hot so that it immediately beings to sear the chicken. Let the chicken fry for around 15 minutes, giving the pieces a good stir. Whilst your doing that, add your rice to the pan. I don’t do weighted measurements but work on the basis that for each person you want 2 handfuls of rice. The rice will take around 20 minutes to cook nicely. White rice may take slightly less but just read the packet.
Now, open your 2 tins on chopped tomatoes and pour them in with the chicken and stir the whole lot. Put in around a cup full of water too. Now bring the heat up on the pan even more until the whole thing is boiling very quickly. Now finely chop your chilli and add to the pan as well. It will taste very spicy at first but don’t worry, once the sauce has reduced down the flavours will combine and the spice will mellow.
Okay, so now the curry is cooking quickly and very hot, the rice is about half way cooked and you’re basically set on that front. Now for the raita, which could not be any more simple! Pour all of the natural yoghurt into a mixing bowl. Chop your half a cucumber into very small cubes and to the yoghurt. Then grab a bunch of coriander and finely (I mean very finely) chop. The best way is to hold the knife normally but put your other hand on top of the blade, and use a rocking action. Add that to the yoghurt and cucumber, then stir the whole lot.
Back to the curry… By this point the sauce should have reduced down nicely. But keep it heating if it’s still very thin. Take your rice off of the heat and drain. Keep it in the pan but off of the heat. Now add the remaining coriander to the curry and stir, then lower the heat. Taste it and test the strength of the heat. If it’s too hot for you, add some leftover yoghurt or add a few knobs of butter to mellow the spice.
Now, plate up! A nice portion of rice each, with a good amount of chicken and sauce. Then a dollop of that lovely raita. Honestly, when you eat this you will be the happiest person alive. Enjoy!
Variation - Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry
Same ingredients as above but omit the chicken, and replace with 2 medium sized sweet potatoes (or a large one) and a can of chickpeas. Dice the potatoes into large chunks and fry in the onion and spice mix, as you would with the chicken. Add the same amount of tinned chopped tomatoes but add 2 cups of water and boil quickly. When the sauce starts to reduce and the potatoes are soft to the point of a knife, add the can of drained chickpeas and heat further. Continue with the rest of the recipe.