Indian Roast Chicken – A recipe for Linsey

I haven’t written on here since last year – it started feeling like just one more chore and I lost my motivation. Now that spring is here and the watery sunshine is cheering me on I’m making a tentative return. I think this will be a more occasional project than I attempted initially but not as ‘occasional'(i.e. never!) as it has been for the last while! I’m inspired by the encouragement of my cousin (husband’s cousin strictly speaking, cousin-in-law maybe?) Linsey who has been asking when I’d be back blogging again. I’m also prompted by a desire to say thank you to her for a lovely drawing she did of the baby.

The baby is 9 months old now and eating solid food as well as milk these days. We did baby led weaning with him and it seems to suit him pretty well. He has what we have and gets stuck in. It means any recipes I post will probably omit salt but anyone making them could obviously add it to taste. We don’t miss it.

For Christmas I got my fancy cast iron pot and then (thankfully post Christmas dinner) our oven promptly broke so it got little use until that was fixed. I luckily also received a slow cooker and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with its possibilities. Although I haven’t been writing on here I’ve done lots of cooking and learned/invented/adapted a host of new (to us) recipes. We’ve had pulled pork, slow cooked brisket, one pot slow cooker chicken dinners, various stews, curries and hot pots and I’d have to say I’m a convert. It saw us through a month with no oven admirably.

Once the oven was fixed, I was keen to get the cast iron casserole in use and this recipe for a whole pot roast chicken with Indian spices (adapted from here) has been one of my biggest successes with it so far. Roasting with the lid on initially, means the meat stays moist and tender and the coconut milk combines with the juices to make a delicious spiced gravy. My cheats ingredient in this recipe is frozen cubes of chopped garlic, ginger and red chilli from the supermarket, I love these as a time saver and it also saves me throwing away the unused bits of ginger and withered chillies that tend to end up forgotten in my fridge. If you’re chopping your own then a cube is equal to about a teaspoon full.

Indian Roast Chicken

A whole chicken
2 cubes frozen chopped garlic
2 cubes frozen chopped ginger
1 or 2 cubes frozen chopped chilli
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tin coconut milk

Allow the frozen garlic, ginger and chilli to defrost at room temperature in a bowl. Add the dried spices and oil and mix together to form a fragrant paste.
Stab the chicken all over with a sharp knife and rub the paste all over the skin.
Cover and refrigerate to marinade for a couple of hours. It’ll be ok if you skip this step, but the flavour is a bit better if you give the spices a chance to get right in about the chicken.

Put the chicken into a large, lidded, ovenproof pot and put it in a preheated oven at 190.
Cook it with the lid on for the first hour or so and then remove the lid and pour over a tin of coconut milk before returning it to the oven, lidless, for the last half hour.
Allow it to rest for 15 minutes or so and then carve and serve with the spicy coconut gravy poured generously over.
We ate it with chapattis, cardamom rice and kidney bean curry.
There was enough chicken left over to make a quick and easy weeknight tea of biryani a few days later.

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Turning a meal into a feast

It’s often too easy for me to lose perspective and forget gratitude. Life is busy and full and sometimes it feels overwhelming. I all too easily forget how fortunate I am, that my life is busy and full because of the many lovely people and opportunities that have come my way in the last few years. I forget how much I prefer it this way to a life that often used to feel lonely and empty. I start to feel that life is one set of problems after another demanding my attention. When I feel like this I need to slow down, look around me and look again for the things that I am thankful for and there are plenty. I find writing gratitude lists a useful habit at times like these and can recommend it to anyone feeling a bit underwhelmed by what they feel they have and overwhelmed by what they feel they have to cope with. My lists change from day to day, they generally include the big things like health and family along with an ever changing appreciation of small things that make the world more lovely like unexpectedly bumping into a friend or a new tablecloth or a sunny autumn afternoon.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie

I’ve had a week where I felt almost swept away by worry and confusion. Thankfully a friend’s good counsel has got me back on track and everything in my head has once again begun to assume its proper size. I sometimes worry I sound smug on here, I hope not, I’m just very thankful that my life is the way that it is today. Anyway, today I’m grateful for a lovely, supportive husband, a freshly painted kitchen, people taking the time to read this blog and the discovery of a dish that pretty much combines stew and scones – two things I already liked very much individually.

Creamy chicken cobbler (adapted from here)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced and washed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 375g pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ chicken stock cube
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 75ml single cream

For the cobbler

  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 small free-range egg, beaten
  • 75ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7.

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Add the onion and leek and gently fry for 5 minutes, until soft.

Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the chicken and thyme and brown the chicken all over.

Stir in the flour, cook for 30 seconds, then crumble the 1/2 chicken stock cube into 300ml boiling water and stir in the peas and cream.

Season well.

In a bowl, mix together the cobbler ingredients and season.

Turn out onto a generously floured surface and gently roll to about 2cm thickness.

Use a cutter to cut rounds (just like if you were making scones) and sit them on top of the chicken stew. Brush the cobbler pieces with milk and then bake for 15-20 minutes, until cooked and the cobbler is risen and golden brown.

Chicken double chickpea curry

I’ve been making versions of this dish for a few months now since I discovered the original recipe on the BBC Good Food website. We love chickpeas in our house and I am particularly fond of kala chana or brown chickpeas. If you’ve not tried them, you should – they are smaller and have a bit more bite to them and a slightly nuttier flavour. Supermarkets tend to stock them these days, sometimes in the ‘international’ food section or just in with the other pulses. The original recipe only contains one tin of normal chickpeas but more and more often these days I find myself adding an extra tin of pulses to recipes like this. It’s economical as the dish goes further and I just prefer the less meaty result. I like to think my husband is coming round to my way of thinking.

I’ve made this recipe using chicken breast as originally suggested and it was lovely and probably very low fat but I think all in all I prefer the result you get when using chicken thighs. I’ve tried cooking it on the bone with the skin on but we’re trying to lose a bit of weight round here so skinless, boneless thigh meat is our happy medium – moister and tastier (to my mind) than breast meat but without the skin a reasonably low fat option.

Making my own curry paste always struck me as too much hassle in the past but using the food processor it’s really very straightforward and the whole dish can be made in under an hour. You can adjust the spiciness by leaving out some of the chilli – the boy, who is 5 and not mad keen on very spicy food enjoyed eating this.

  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of medium curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and roughly chopped (or less if you prefer less heat)
  • Fresh coriander
  • Chicken stock cube/powder
  • 425ml boiling water
  • About 500g of boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tin kala chana/brown chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Small pot of natural yoghurt

Put the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and spices into a food processor and blend them into a paste. Add a tablespoon of water to help it blend if you need to.

Cook the paste in a large heavy based pan over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring it frequently.

Add the stock and the boiling water and mix it in.

Add the chicken and simmer for half an hour or until the meat is tender.

Add the two tins of chickpeas and cook for another ten minutes.

Serve with basmati rice and naan or chappatis. Drizzle with the plain yoghurt and sprinkle some chopped fresh coriander on top.