Most New Year’s resolutions seem to involve less food than last year. And quite rightly so; after a solid few weeks of gorging around Christmas it is normal to want to reduce one’s intake. Unfortunately for me, that would put me out of my job in writing a weekly food column. So I am going to pretend that the readers of The Student in Edinburgh are dead set on continuing the Christmas gorging right into 2016.
The recipes for the next few weeks will revolve around so-called ‘student classics’. And where better to start than curry? Full disclosure here: I was scared of making curry for years, and only made my first one last year. They are really fun to make, and that is what it is all about. Big shout-out to the resident curry specialist, Shivali Dawda and her mum, without whom this recipe would have lacked some serious curry know-how!
We start at the very beginning with a big pan on a medium heat and a good glug of oil (and a knob of butter if you are really intent on starting 2016 with good food!). This will make a curry for four people. When the butter has melted, add a teaspoon of cumin seeds. Make sure they do not turn black, but just sizzle lightly. Add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and when the aroma coming from the pan is just too good, add 2 medium onions, chopped as finely as possible. Keep the heat no higher than medium so the onions start to go sticky and sweet. If they are catching on the bottom of the pan turn down the heat.
Now we add the chicken. I use thigh, because when it cooks slowly it becomes really tender and shreds apart under the fork. If you get it with the bone still in it is super tasty, but boneless thigh is easier to eat. It is also tastier and juicier than breast, which can dry out. So chop up one chicken thigh per person into nugget sized pieces and add to the onions. Relax for 10-15 minutes whilst the chicken cooks in the pan. Use this time to come up with non-food related New Year’s resolutions, for example. After 10-15 minutes add a teaspoon of turmeric and a good pinch of salt. Stir in to incorporate and then add a can of chopped tomatoes or passata. You might need two cans depending on how wet you would like your curry to be: if it looks just a bit dry then add half a can of water. When this starts to bubble add a teaspoon each of chilli powder, garam masala, chopped coriander and ground cumin. It might need more salt too. If you like a mild, korma-like curry, now is your chance to add a good dollop of yoghurt or coconut milk. If you want a tikka masala vibe, add half a handful of ground almonds.
Next we reduce the heat to its lowest setting, put on a lid and leave it for an hour. Time to make the best rice you will ever taste! I learnt this trick from my old head chef who himself learnt it off a top curry chef he worked with. Make sure you have a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add 80 grams of long grain rice per person, and 160ml of water per person. Add a really good pinch of salt, two cardamom pods and a shaking of turmeric. Now we leave it on a really low heat for 45 minutes, or until the rice has soaked up all the water. Fluff it up with a knob of butter and serve in a steaming pile with the rich curry atop. A couple sprigs of coriander on top will be the metaphorical cherry on the metaphorical cake.
Of course, if you are vegetarian or really did make a food based resolution, swap out the chicken for chopped sweet potato, courgette, mushrooms or even just spinach.
Next week’s menu is that carbohydrate induced favourite, macaroni cheese! Happy New Year!
Image: [Hari Connor]