Curry is my comfort food and this curry with spiced squished potatoes is perfect for when I have a curry craving. Being back in England, with so many great Indian restaurants means I don’t have to cook to have a great curry. But making your own is always a healthier option and costs much less than a takeaway. As with most stews and curries, this recipe is at its best a day after cooking. It also freezes brilliantly so is a great one to double up.
I love to serve this with brown rice or with the spiced squished potatoes below.
If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the onion and fry it before adding the spices, sliced garlic and tomatoes. You’ll have a chunkier curry but it will still be delicious.
The recipe below uses my favourites, chicken thighs. They work perfectly for this type of cooking. Don’t be tempted to use breast as the meat will dry out as it cooks.
Make a vegetarian curry. Use vegetable stock and replace the chicken with half a cup of dried red lentils, or a can of chickpeas and chunks of butternut squash.
Make a lamb curry. Use exactly the same recipe but switch the chicken thighs for diced neck, leg or shoulder of lamb, on the bone is best. Cook the curry in the oven for 2-3 hours at 130°C fan (150°C regular) 270°F convection (300°F regular).
Curry ingredients (I usually double this so that I make 2 dinners at once and can freeze one)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
6-8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless (or lamb – see note above)
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground turmeric (this really stains to be careful where you put your spoon)
1-2 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
a pinch of dried red chilli flakes
2 tablespoons tomato purée (tomato paste)
1 can (400g or 14.5 oz) diced salt-free tomatoes
250ml (1 cup) homemade chicken stock or in the UK a Kallo cube or in the US better than bouillon made up with hot water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
30-60g (1-2 oz) coriander (cilantro)
- Heat ghee or coconut oil in a deep, wide, heavy pan on a medium heat. I like to use my Le Creuset.
- When the oil is quivering, put the whole chicken thighs into the pan and let them brown for 5-6 minutes on each side. Do this in two batches if you are doubling up the recipe. Be sure not to move them around as we want them to colour and caramelise. Use your sense of smell and your ears to check the chicken is sizzling but not burning. Moving them around will leave you with grey, steamed meat rather than golden, delicious flavour.
- While the chicken browns, make the spice paste. Peel and roughly chop the onion and add it to a food processor along with the peeled garlic and all the spices (cumin, coriander, fennel, chilli, garam masala, turmeric). Purée until you have a smooth paste and then add the canned tomatoes and tomato purée. Purée again until you have a smooth sauce.
- Add the sauce to the pan of chicken. Stir well and cook with a fierce bubble for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the stock.
- Bring to the boil then quickly reduce the heat to a simmer then cook, either on the hob or in the oven. See note above for cooking times for lamb…
- On the hob/stove – Cook with a lid on a low heat for 50-60 minutes. The stew will be cooked in 30 minutes but the extra cooking time mellows the flavours. Stir every 15 minutes or so to check that the sauce isn’t drying out and that nothing is sticking at the bottom of the pan. Add more stock if it is drying out or remove the lid if it is looking too liquid.
- In the oven – cook with the lid on, at 130°C fan (150°C regular) 270°F convection (300°F regular) for an hour or two. You only need to check it once, half way through as it is less likely to stick. I usually leave the lid off for the last 30 minutes of cooking in the oven so that the sauce darkens slightly.
- When the chicken has been cooking for the full time, taste the sauce for seasoning and add the juice and zest of a lime plus, salt, pepper and chilli as needed. I sometimes add a sprinkle of ground cumin or garam masala if I feel it needs a little more flavour. Stir the chopped coriander leaves and stems through just before serving. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or frozen.
Spiced squashed potatoes
I always order saag aloo when we get a take-away. This is my way of getting gorgeous spiced potatoes at home and is a great way to use leftover boiled potatoes.
The same technique will work without the spices and is a perfect side in the summer.
Leftover potatoes can be kept for 4 days in the fridge and then re-crisped in a hot oven for 15 minutes. They are amazing with a fried egg for breakfast or brunch.
700g-1kg (1.5-2.2lb) new potatoes, whole and unpeeled then boiled until soft in salt water
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon garam masala
A teaspoon of chilli flakes if you can cope with a bit of heat
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
To serve – White wine vinegar
- Heat oven to 190°C fan (220°C regular) 375°F convection (430°F regular)
- Put half the oil on a large metal baking tray. Use your fingers to spread it around and then scatter half of the spices on top.
- Lay the drained, cooked potatoes on top of the spices in a single layer, then use a potato masher or the flat of your hand to crush them. They should still hold their shape but have burst their sides.
- Scatter the rest of the oil, spices and the salt flakes over the top of the potatoes. Then roast for 45-60 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy.
- Sprinkle white wine vinegar over the hot potatoes before serving. I sometimes scatter chopped coriander (cilantro) and chillies over along with some drizzled natural yoghurt if I’m being fancy.