Mum's Chicken Curry
I left Lincolnshire at the age of 18 to go to university in London. Secretly homesick, I would stop in Indian-owned newsagents on the way back from class, lingering over the magazines and quietly listening to the owners speaking in Gujarati, just for comfort.
When it came to food, I was at the mercy of the halls chef, a Jamaican with an adventurous streak who would create delights such as sweetcorn and strawberry salad, indiscriminately seasoning everything with pepper. With every bite, I’d be thinking about home and my ultimate comfort food, my mum’s chicken curry.
- 2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 x 4cm cinnamon sticks
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 6cm ginger, peeled and grated
- 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 fresh green chillies (or 1 teaspoon chilli powder)
- 200g tomato passata
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 3 tbsp whole-milk yoghurt (plus extra to serve)
- 1.2 kg skinless chicken legs, or 800g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 3 tbsp ground almonds
- 1 tsp garam masala
Put the ghee and oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat and, when it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Let them infuse in the oil for a minute, and then add the onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic and green chillies into a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt and bash to a coarse paste.
Add the paste to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes, then pour in the passata and stir. Cook the passata for a few minutes until it resembles a thick paste, then add the tomato purée, ground cumin, turmeric and ½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
Whisk the yoghurt and add it slowly to the curry. Cook it through until it starts to bubble, then add the chicken. Pop the lid on the pan and continue to cook on a gentle heat for around 30 minutes. Add the ground almonds and the garam masala and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve with a tower of chapattis, hot fluffy naan bread or rice, and offer yoghurt at the table.