Pistachio and Yoghurt Chicken Curry
This rich and mildly spiced dish is fit for a maharajah. In fact the inspiration for this dish came from a book I picked up on my travels in India: Cooking Delights of the Maharajahs, written by a former prince of Sailana, Digvijaya Singh. He loved the exotic Mughlai dishes served up in his kitchens so much that he learnt and recorded every single one.
The ground pistachios lend themselves perfectly to the sweetness of the onions and create a beautiful, rich, creamy sauce. You’ll need a spice grinder, ideally, or food processor to grind the nuts for this recipe.
- 100g unsalted pistachios (plus extra to serve)
- 5cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2 large onions, sliced into fine rings
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 4cm cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 800g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 2cm cubes
- 250ml hot chicken stock
- 4 tbsp home-made or Greek yoghurt (plus extra to serve)
In a food processor or spice grinder, grind the pistachios to a fine powder and set aside. Bash up the ginger and garlic in a pestle and mortar to a coarse paste and set aside.
Put the oil in a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat and, when it’s hot, add the onions. Fry until caramelized, which should take around 20 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the tomatoes.
Put the lid on the pan and leave the tomatoes to cook for around 5 minutes, until they start to break down, then add the black pepper, garam masala, chilli powder, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Stir, then add the chicken pieces to the pan.
Turn the chicken so that it seals on all sides, then add the ground pistachios. Stir-fry for a minute, then pour in the chicken stock. Lightly whisk the yoghurt with a fork, then stir it into the pan. Pop the lid on the pan and leave to cook for around 15 minutes. Taste the dish and adjust as you wish.
Add a little water to get a good saucy consistency if need be. To serve, spoon over a dollop of yoghurt, scatter with chopped pistachios and squeeze over the lemon juice. Eat with a bowl of basmati rice or some naan bread.