My dad hails from the beautiful island of Mauritius and so growing up, delicious curries with exotic spices made up our evening meal as often as fish and chips or steak and kidney pie. That’s why I feel so lucky, because I grew up around the unusual, the colourful and the outlandish. I wasn’t afraid to try new things or be put off by alien ingredients. It gave me confidence to fearlessly explore the culinary world. Thanks dad!
Over the years I have found myself reaching for cardamom or cumin as easily as I would reach for salt or pepper. It’s a gift to have so many wonderful spices at your fingertips: a gift I hope to impart unto you.
On paper, the list of spice ingredients for this recipe may seem daunting, but please don’t be deterred! After ten minutes (less, if you use a spice grinder), all those spice jars will be back in their rack and you’ll have made a beautifully aromatic curry powder. After that, it’s all plain sailing.
RECIPE: Chicken, Mango & Paneer Curry
FLAVOUR PROFILE: Aromatic, creamy, fruity with a little kick from the chillies.
GOES GREAT WITH: Boiled rice or a fresh green salad, or just on its own with some naan bread for dunking.
NOTES: This is the perfect curry to use up any leftover meat. Leftover turkey from your Christmas lunch pairs beautifully with the mango flavour; leftover chicken, pork or beef from your Sunday roast is equally delicious. Fresh fish or seafood is also delightful – just throw it in for the last five minutes of cooking. Or why not leave out the protein altogether and enjoy it as a vegetarian dish?!
MAKES: Enough to serve 4.
- 1 heaped tsp CORIANDER SEEDS
- 1/2 tsp CUMIN SEEDS
- 2/3 tsp FENNEL SEEDS
- 1/2 tsp FENUGREEK SEEDS
- 2 CLOVES
- 4 GREEN CARDAMOM PODS
- 2 DRIED RED CHILLI (Birdseye or to taste)
- 1/2 inch piece CINNAMON
- 6 BLACK PEPPERCORNS
- 2 tbsp. SUNFLOWER OIL
- 1 tbsp. BUTTER
- 2 small RED ONIONS, peeled and sliced into half-moons
- 2 GARLIC CLOVES, minced
- 2 inch piece FRESH GINGER, peeled and chopped
- 6 CHERRY TOMATOES, diced
- 1 MANGO, peeled and diced
- 1 RED BELL PEPPER, diced
- 1 tsp GARAM MASALA
- 250ml COCONUT MILK
- Small can CHICKPEAS
- 350g PANEER, diced into large cubes
- 450g CHICKEN, diced into bitesize pieces
- First make the curry powder: Put the CORIANDER SEEDS, CUMIN SEEDS, FENNEL SEEDS, FENUGREEK SEEDS, CLOVES, GREEN CARDAMOM PODS, DRIED RED CHILLI, CINNAMON and BLACK PEPPERCORNS into a dry frying pan and toast over a high heat for 1-2 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they can burn easily. Your nose will tell you when they’re ready: take off the heat when you can smell their beautiful aroma.
- Split open the cardamom pods, releasing the seeds and discard the husks. Decant all of the spices into a spice grinder and whizz until you have a fine powder. Alternatively, grind them by hand in a pestle and mortar. Although, leave out the cinnamon and chillies as it will be impossible to powder them unless you are super strong and really patient. Instead, toss them into the curry whole, and fish them out at the end.
- Next, prepare the curry: In a large saucepan, add 1 tbsp. SUNFLOWER OIL and the BUTTER over a medium heat. Add the RED ONIONS and cook gently for 20 minutes until they are golden brown and sticky.
- Stir in the GINGER and GARLIC for a few minutes until the raw smell mellows. Then add the CHERRY TOMATOES and RED BELL PEPPER. Cook for 5 minutes for the tomatoes to soften and release their juices.
- Add the MANGO and your homemade CURRY POWDER, stirring well so that everything is nicely covered in the spices. Then, pour in the COCONUT MILK. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure that the coconut milk doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
- Meanwhile: In the same frying pan that you toasted the spices in, heat 1 tbsp. SUNFLOWER OIL. Add the PANEER cubes and fry, flipping over regularly so they are golden on all sides.
- Remove your curry from the heat, allow to cool for a few minutes and then, using a stick blender, blitz the curry until you are left with a thick sauce. Alternatively, use a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Put the curry back on the heat. Add the CHICKEN and CHICKPEAS plus the GARAM MASALA, and poach for 20 minutes, adding the PANEER for the last 5 minutes so that it can warm through. Serve immediately with your favourite sundries. Leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have any), will be delicious the next day, giving the flavours more time to mature.