This curry really wasn't supposed to be like this and I don't mind admitting it. If I had have been paying attention, it was supposed to be my Chilli Chicken Curry with Courgettes. However, I wasn't paying attention and the aforesaid curry seemed to be too complicated for my head to handle, so I decided to wing it. Aaaah, how often does winging it result in a great recipe? Not as often as I'd like, to be honest, but in this case it did.
I've been having problems with my chicken recently. Now I don't THINK it's my cooking methods - or I flipping hope it's not my cooking methods - but it seems to often come up hard or even tough in the finished dish. I'm coming to the conclusion that the quality of chicken breasts that aren't organic, corn fed, gold plated and groomed by faerie folk, is just pretty parlous. A kind of "keep the good chicken for the people with money, fob the rest off with the hard as nails, brought up in Wormwood Scrubs, whatchoolookinat chicken" situation. So I've been thinking about how I can alter my cooking methods to best cope with this reluctant to be cooked chicken - and this was my first foray into this turned on its head kind of cooking and, to my palate anyway, it seems to have worked.
The chicken spends much less time in the pan, but it didn't seem to lose anything for having not been cooked for long in the curry sauce, so I'm happy with that. The curry sauce is made with the same oil that the courgettes and chicken were cooked in, so none of the flavour is lost. However, the big joy with this recipe is the cherry tomatoes. By piercing the stalk end of each tomato, it allows the sauce to penetrate and the short time they are in the pan means that each tomato while cooked, still retains the characteristic sweetness and juice of a cherry tomato. They are nothing short of little flavour bombs that fill your mouth with deliciousness and refresh you as they go. Just remember to keep your mouth closed when you bite one! Nobody enjoys being targeted by someone else's cherry tomato explosion, particularly not one that comes with curry sauce.
I really enjoyed this curry. I liked its lighter nature, it has a cleanliness that a cream based curry, or even a lentil based curry, doesn't have. The courgettes lend it a natural sweetness and the tamarind sauce balances that with a touch of sour. Frisky enough with its medium curry powder, black pepper and red chilli flakes to satisfy those who enjoy a spicy curry, it can easily be pepped up by simply adding more red chilli if you like your curries hotter than the average.
I'd better get on and type out the recipe, before I forget it!
CHERRY BOMB & CHICKEN CURRY (serves 3)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
20g salted butter
1 courgette, cut into bite sized chunks
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
ground black pepper
2 red onions, diced small
2 garlic cloves, chopped
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
3 heaped tsp of medium curry powder
1 heaped tsp of Tikka curry powder
1 tsp paprika
a pinch of red chilli flakes
400ml hot water
2 tbsp tamarind sauce (I used East End brand)
1 heaped tbsp creamed coconut
10-12 tiny cherry tomatoes, pierced at the stalk end with a sharp knife
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped (keep some back for garnish)
Cooked, hot, Basmati rice to serve.
Heat the rapeseed oil and butter together in a deep pan or wok over a medium heat, until the butter is foamy. Add the courgette pieces and fry until just beginning to take on colour. Turn each courgette piece and continue frying until beginning to soften but still fairly firm. Using a slotted spoon, remove the courgettes to a warm bowl and reserve, leaving as much of the buttery oil behind as possible.
Increase the heat under the pan and add the chicken slices. Season with a pinch of sea salt & black pepper and fry until just beginning to turn golden, then turn and repeat on the other side. Cook until just cooked through - a little bit of pink showing is okay, as they will receive more cooking once added to the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the pan to the bowl with the courgettes and reserve. Retain the oil and cooking juices in the pan.
Add the chopped onions, garlic and cinnamon to the pan and fry until the onions and garlic are softened. Take care not to allow the garlic pieces to burn.
Add the two curry powders, paprika and chilli flakes to the pan and stir well while they cook out. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
Add the water and tamarind sauce and stir well to combine. Pour any cooking juices into the pan from the courgette and chicken bowl and stir to combine. Bring to a lively simmer and reduce the heat. Simmer the sauce, stirring from time to time, until reduced by approximately a third.
Add the coconut cream and stir gently through. Add the contents of the chicken & courgette bowl and the cherry tomatoes and stir gently until everything is covered with the curry sauce. Simmer until you are happy that the chicken is cooked through, the cherry tomatoes are hot and the sauce is at your preferred consistency. If the sauce becomes too dry, simply add a little more hot water.
Stir in the chopped coriander and serve with hot white rice.