One of my favourite cuisines without a doubt is Indian. These days however, with most of our money being spent on home/garden improvements, there's no budget left for luxuries such as occasional take-away meals so I decided to make my own versions of our favourite Indian dishes, as I wasn't ready to completely give them up. They don't pretend to be authentic, but they're tasty and work out so much cheaper than their take-away counterparts.
The other day I made this chicken and veg biryani. I had made it without meat in the past and it was utterly delicious, so it can definitely be easily made vegetarian.
This recipe is very versatile and you can really use whatever veg you have kicking about. It does take a while to prepare (though nothing complicated) so it's a weekend treat for us.
This recipe will serve 4-6 people depending on appetite.
500g chicken breast
A good pinch of curry powder (optional)
2 carrots or a sweet potato
2 handfuls of frozen or fresh cauliflower or broccoli florets
A handful of green beans (trimmed) or mange tout or frozen peas
A little vegetable oil
For the stock:
1l of chicken or vegetable stock or water
1/2 jar curry paste (tikka masala, rogan josh, madras...)
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp dried chilli flakes or 1 fresh chopped chilli
Salt to taste
First, dice the chicken, sprinkle with the curry powder (if using) and stir-fry in a pan in a little oil until golden-brown.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°C.
Peel and chop your veggies, except the beans/peas. Toss them in a large roasting tin with a glug of oil and roast in the pre-heated oven for 15-20min.
Meanwhile, prepare the stock - put all the stock ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Take the roasting tin out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 190°C. Add all the other ingredients to the tin: beans/peas, fried chicken, uncooked rice and the hot stock. Cover the tin with foil and return to the oven for 30min.
This can be garnished with chopped coriander if you have any on hand, and served with poppadoms.
I like to serve mine with a tomato and onion gravy called shorba, or my version of it anyway.
Here's how I make it.
A glug of oil
1 large onion
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 fresh chilli pepper (dried is also fine)
1 tbsp ginger & garlic paste or equivalent amount of fresh garlic and ginger, grated
4 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
Salt to taste
A good pinch of turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
Seeds of 3 cardamom pods
Seeds of 2 star anise petals
1/2 cinnamon stick
First, slice the onion and fry it together with the halved and de-seeded chilli in a little oil. When onion starts to turn golden, add all the remaining ingredients except the yogurt and the whole spices. Fry for another 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Put 2 cups of cold water tin a blender and add the contents of the pan. Blend until smooth.
Put a small amount of oil in a clean pan and add the whole spices - fry for a couple of minutes until they release the aromas. Add the blended mixture and bring to a boil. The gravy is ready. Just before serving, stir in the yoghurt.