I was reading Sandra’s (at Please Pass the Recipe ) latest post the other night and was intrigued when she mentioned that the Cookbook Guru, hosted by Leah, was exploring Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook this month. I whizzed over to Leah’s site and a whole new world opened up to me. Each month, Leah and the other members explore one cookbook and, as Sandra mentioned, this month it is Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook. Check it out. “I can play this game” I thought. “I have the Complete Asian Cookbook.” Before I knew it, I had told Leah I would join in. And then the penny dropped… I do, in fact, have the cookbook, but it is in Bridgetown and I am in Perth. I started searching on the web for recipe’s from the book. Luckily, Google books has a fairly generous preview of the book. I chose a recipe from the previewed pages. (They were an excerpt from the Indian and Pakistani chapter). I hit a jackpot.
If not for committing to showcase the Complete Asian Cookbook, we would, most probably, have had a salad tonight. Instead, we had a very luscious curry. Maus hasn’t stopped smiling.
When looking for recipes from the book, I checked out Charmaine’s website. The Complete Asian Cookbook was first published in 1976 and has been reprinted almost annually. Further, it has been translated into five languages. Those stats are a pretty good ad for a book.
I was interested to see that curry powder was used in this recipe, rather than individual spices. It is not cool these days to use curry powder but I didn’t care. I had some Madras mild curry powder in a jar and it worked perfectly. I buy mild curry powder. You can always add chilli but you can’t take it away.
These quantities will serve 5-6.
- 1 large chicken (Please consider the chicken and buy free range.) I follow Maggie Beer’s advice and always buy the biggest bird available. According to Maggie, the big birds have much more flavour than small birds. Don’t worry about leftovers – curry tastes all the better the next day and the day after that … If you wish, you can buy chicken pieces but don’t be tempted to buy filleted chicken. Curry is not the same when the chicken is not cooked on the bone. The bones add to the lusciousness of the sauce.
- 3 tbs* ghee (use butter if you don’t have any ghee)
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 3 tbs* curry powder
- 1 tsp chilli powder, optional (see below)
- salt, to taste
- 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped. (My tomatoes weren’t particularly large so I used 5.)
- 2 tbs* chopped fresh coriander or mint leaves
- 2 tsp garam masala
- ½ cup natural yoghurt
- 125g raw cashews, finely ground (I used roasted as I had them in the pantry.) I whizzed mine in the food processor.
*These are 20mil tablespoons
- Cut the chicken down both sides of the back bone. Keep the back bone for when you are next making chicken stock. Cut down the breast bone. Cut each half into two. Cut the leg from the thigh and the thigh into two or three pieces. Cut the wing from the breast and the breast into three pieces.
- Heat the ghee or butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger on very low heat until soft. Charmaine advises that long, slow cooking at this stage is the basis of a good curry and she is so right. It is the cooked down onion that makes the curry sauce. I cook the onion for, at least, half an hour. Whenever it gets a bit dry, I add a splash of water to keep it loose and stop it sticking to the pan.
- When the onion is completely soft and there is no raw onion flavour left, add the curry powder and chilli powder and stir for 1 minute. Charmaine notes that you can substitute paprika for the chilli power if your curry is already hot enough for your taste. I added half a teaspoon of chilli powder and half a teaspoon of paprika to be on the safe side.
- Add salt, tomatoes, chopped coriander or mint and cook down to a pulp. Stir regularly. Again, add a splash of water if it starts to look too dry.
A little tip I picked up from Pat Chapman’s Curry Bible is: if you want your curry nice and smooth, blend the sauce with a stick blender. I added a bit of water, blended it and then cooked it for another 15 minutes or so to make absolutely sure the onions were cooked and I had a nice, smooth sauce.
- Add the chicken. Stir well to coat chicken with spice mixture.
- Cover tightly and simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure it does not stick.
- Stir in the garam masala and yoghurt and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the cashews and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
- If you want to be fancy, sprinkle the curry with extra cashews and chopped coriander or mint leaves before serving.
- We served ours with cucumber raita and lemon pickle. It was very, very nice.