Saturday, 4 April 2015
About once a fortnight, we indulge in Indian food. There is an Indian restaurant - possibly more than one - here in Pisa, but we've been firmly warned off going there by the Paoli, who know of what they speak when it comes to Indian food. And so, the only option is to roll up one's sleeves and get on with preparing it oneself. I have several reliable books by Madhur Jaffrey (The Ultimate Curry Bible, in particular, is extremely good), but her recipes tend to be quite esoteric, and are certainly not reminiscent of all those many years of cheap-and-cheerful Indian restaurants over the decades (from student dives onwards) which are occasionally what one hankers after. Chicken Jalfrezi has long been a favourite, from the period after my earliest experiences of Indian food, when it was generally a question of choosing Madras or Vindaloo, with an option of Hot, Medium Hot, or Very Hot (depending on how many spoonfuls of curry power the kitchen had stirred into the mixture, just before serving).
This version of Chicken Jalfrezi is largely taken from The Thousand Best Indian Recipes, with the difference that butter is used instead of oil, for a much 'creamier' result, and the meat used is thigh rather than breast meat, since it remains more succulent after cooking.If you're being energetic, you can combine it with Aloo Ghobi, but in general I serve it just with plain basmati rice.
Ingredients: 2 tbs butter; 1 medium onion, finely chopped; 2 cloves garlic, pressed; half a green chili, de-seeded and finely chopped; approx 3 cm fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped; meat cut from three chicken thighs, diced into approx 2 cm cubes; 2 tsp curry powder; quarter tsp salt; 1 tsp tomato paste; 120 ml water; half a red pepper.
1. Melt the butter in a heavy pan, add the onion, garlic and chili, and cook for about four minutes, until the onion has wilted.
2. Add curry powder, salt and tomato paste, and stir over heat for about 30 seconds.
3. Add the diced chicken, and cook stirring constantly for about three minutes, until the chicken looks cooked.
4. Add the water, bring just to the boil, then lower the heat so that the mixture just simmers for about five minutes.
5. Add grated ginger and chopped pepper, and cook for a further minute.
Either serve immediately, or else keep warm over a gentle heat for five or ten minutes (but ensure that it doesn't get too thick in the process).