I admit I struggled with the absence of rice when eating curries after reducing our carbohydrate consumption. But a veggie filled, spicy pile of dhal is a great way to accompany a low carb chicken curry…
The key to this dish’s success is to create a really tasty base curry sauce (freezable so make masses of it if you want super quick curry nights in the future), And, remember to serve the dhal and curry warm rather than boiling hot to get maximum flavor.
Chicken Curry Lean Ape Style
First you want to get the curry on the go.
You will need…
For the spice mix: 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon fenugreek, 2 teaspoons chili flakes (or as much as you can handle), 1 teaspoon peppercorns, a large pinch of curry leaves, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, a pinch of cinnamon and a little sea salt.
For the curry – around 1/2 a chicken (or 2 chicken breasts – more on this below), 1 onion finely diced, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, a thumb-size piece of ginger finely grated), 1 bell pepper diced, 1 can tomatoes chopped, 500ml /1pt of coconut milk, 1/2 can of drained chickpeas/garbanzo beans, a cup of broccoli florets, 1 tablespoon of ghee (peanut oil, or butter).
With regards to the chicken. The tastiest results will come from cooking chicken on the bone. But chicken breasts are fine (just cut them up into bite sized chunks). Or you can simply use leftover roast chicken, in which case add it only for the last 10 minutes of cooking to heat through gently.
This will make enough for 2-3 plus a little left over. If you need to feed 4 just up the chicken, and veg as the sauce should still be enough. Of course use whatever veg you like in place of the broccoli. Mushrooms in place of the peppers is always a good choice too, but this time the fridge was devoid of all fungi.
Making the curry…
- Heat the ghee, oil or butter in a wide pan and fry the onions, garlic and ginger over a low heat for 10 minutes or so till soft.
- Whilst that’s going on heat a skillet over a medium flame and toast the whole spices. Once you can smell them turn off the heat and grind the whole lot up in a designated coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.
- Add the spice mix (and the already ground spices) and peppers to the onions and cook stirring for a few minutes.
- Add the tomatoes in their juice and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every now and again to make sure nothing is sticking.
- Add the chicken on the bone if using (chicken quarters, or legs give the best results), and cook for another 30 minutes on a low simmer.
- Add the coconut milk, chick-peas, broccoli and chicken breast if using, and simmer for another 15 minutes with the lid slightly askew to let some steam escape.
- If you used chicken on the bone, just take it out and shred it from the bone. Put the meat back in the curry to serve and bin the bones. If you used chicken meat off the bone you’re ready to sit down and eat already!
This will freeze well, and tastes better the next day (like most curries) so be sure to use up the leftovers.
While the curry is simmering get on with your sides…
This is endlessly variable, but this is the basic version to amend at your leisure…
1/2 an onion sliced finely, 1 clove garlic crushed and a small knob of ginger grated. 1 teaspoon of both ground cumin and coriander. 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper, 2 diced carrots, 2 cups of shredded spinach and 2 cups of green or brown lentils plus boiling water (or even better chicken stock). One tablespoon of ghee or butter.
What to do…
- Melt the butter or ghee and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and carrots on a low heat for 5-10 minutes till glossy.
- Add the spices and lentils and cover with boiling water by about an inch.
- Bring to the boil, pop a lid on and simmer on the lowest heat for around 40-50 minutes depending on your lentils.
- Stir every now and again and add more water if you think they’re drying out.
- Add the spinach and stir over a low heat till wilted down and thoroughly combined (which should only take a few minutes). Give it a really good bash with a wooden spoon or a potato masher to break up the lentils a bit.
- Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.
Serve with grated cucumber stirred into thick yogurt and wish it was cheat day so you could have some poppadoms with it!