As is often the case after a week in another country, on return from Australia all I wanted to eat was something comforting and familiar. Curry it was, and it was good. Just hot enough to for the body to respond with sweat and serotonin, without you having to bury your face in the freezer.
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
10 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp mustard seed
A few curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2 dried red chillies
1 tsp onion seeds
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tin coconut milk
1 tbsp tomato puree
4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
A couple of large handfuls of spinach
– Start by toasting the whole spices (cumin, coriander, cloves) in a dry frying pan until their scent tickles your nostrils. Some recommend toasting separately but life’s too short. Tip them into a pestle and mortar and grind with the cardamom.
– Heat a little oil in a saucepan over a medium flame. Add the mustard seeds and, once they start to pop, chuck in the curry leaves, asafoetida, dried red chillies and onion seeds. Keep stirring until the chillies char and wilt, then throw in the onion and garlic. Lower the heat and soften for 10 minutes before banging it back up and stir-frying with the ground spices, chilli powder and turmeric.
– Add the coconut milk and tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes until thickened, then add the chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in the spinach. Cook until wilted and serve with rice and a handful of coriander.