Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Dinner party-tastic!

I like entertaining. It gives me chance to cook for loads of people and I relish the challenge.  But what I don’t want is to cook something so complex that I can’t enjoy the main point of the evening; to have a laugh with my mates.

So just before Christmas, I invited some of my old school friends round and set out working out what I would cook.  There were ten of us so I wanted to do something that could be prepared for a lot of people in one go.  So what better I thought, than a curry!

I’d recently treated myself a new book by Madhur Jaffrey, called ‘Curry Easy’. And here’s the plus – it’s brilliant. You know how some curry recipes require something insane like 20 or 30 ingredients and you have to make a special trip to the shops to get half of them?  Well this book doesn’t do that.  It does exactly what it says on the tin, and I haven’t had a bad curry yet. Curry Easy is one of those books you just need.

I’m not going to give you the recipes for everything I made, but there is one dish in particular that I think everyone should try. Even those that claim to dislike curry will thoroughly enjoy this.And it beats anything from a takeaway. So here goes…

Chicken and Spinach Curry
Serves 6 (I doubled it for the dinner party and it worked perfectly)

6 chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs, or any other chicken parts you like (about 1.9kg in total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
5cm/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp sweet red paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
5 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
2 x 5cm/2 inch cinnamon sticks
8 cardamom pods
285g spinach, chopped (defrosted and drained if frozen)

- Spread the chicken out in a single layer and sprinkle 1 tsp salt and lots of black pepper on all sides.
- Put the onion, ginger, garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper into a food processor and, using a fast start-and-stop method, chop all of the ingredients as fine as possible, stopping short of making a puree.
- Put the oil into a wide, heavy pan and set over a medium-high heat.  When hot, put in the cinnamon and cardamom. Let them sizzle for a few seconds. Now put in as much of the chicken as will fit easily in a single layer and brown on all sides. Transfer to a bowl, leaving the whole spices behind. Brown all of the chicken in this way and keep in the bowl.
- Put the onion mixture into the pan, reducing the heat to medium. Stir and fry for 4 – 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the spinach and ½ tsp salt. Stir and fry for another 4 – 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken, ¼ tsp salt and 120ml/4 fl oz water. Bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat and gently simmer for 25 minutes, gently turning the chicken pieces a few times. Excess fat may be removed before serving.

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