I’m not going to lie. This dish requires a modicum more effort than you might be used to on this blog. Time (I’d say 40 minutes of your precious time prepping), washing up (a few pans, a doughy bowl)…it’s not a 15 minute knock up job. But my word it’s worth it. Should you be short on time, however, you could elect not to bother with the breads and serve the baby chickens with plain rice. Still damn good.
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 thumb of ginger, sliced (don’t bother to peel)
For the paratha breads
200g chapati flour (otherwise plain flour will do)
150ml or so of tepid water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
You could also add a pinch of ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon…whatever
For the rice
1 stick celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
250g basmati rice
1 tin coconut milk
100ml groundnut oil
– Start by making the spice paste, smashing the garlic, ginger and coriander stalks in a pestle and mortar before mixing with garam masala, chilli flakes, and enough olive oil to bring together. Smear over the poussins and leave for as long as you can.
– To make the bread, mix the flour with salt and whatever spices you are using, and bring together with warm water. Add the olive oil and knead for 5 minutes. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 30 minutes. Break the dough into 6 pieces (you’ll always want half a piece more) and roll thinly on a floured surface. Put a dry frying pan over a high heat and cook the breads one at a time. They’ll need about 1 minute on each side. Set aside. If you like you can do these ahead, then wrap in foil and warm up in the oven.
– Preheat the oven to 220C. Season each bird with salt and a squeeze of lemon and pop in the oven, turning it down to 200C immediately. Roast for 30-40 minutes.
– The rice, then. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and add the cumin seeds, stirring until your nostrils are filled with the ever-so-slightly body-odorous musk of cumin. Add the celery and garlic and sweat gently for a couple of minutes. Up the heat again and add the rice. Stir for a minute before adding the coconut milk and water. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave until ready to serve.
– When cooked, remove the poussins and rest. Heat the groundnut oil over a strong flame and add the shallots. Deep-fry for 1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon to some kitchen paper.
– Serve the poussins with the rice, parathas, a handful of crispy shallots and a scattering of almond flakes.