Its winter-lets make Curry June 2012

Its a truly awful day. The cat and me are warm at home thinking of calmer climates whilst huddled over the heater.
So....once I managed to get myself mobile I thought lets make heat things up with a good old curry paste.Whether it be Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Moroccan ...anything at all, the preparation of a good paste is a serious matter which needs time to be given to it.
Im a fan of the lengthy preparation of a good paste so Im quite happy to set aside an afternoon in production of two or three in vast quantities so I can store them or give them away.This particular paste needs quite some cooking so I start it and then keep working on it for a few days to really enhance the flavours. Believe is worth it if you do follow this rather annoying recipe. I cook it in three stages. The paste itself first is made and halved out to use as a marinate as well as the base to the main sauce. This is cooked for some time -several hours at least and I keep adding water and keep reducing it. I do this in order to cook the spices out and give them a more mellow and less raw taste and unfortunately this will only happen with cooking for a long period.

After procuring some lovely fresh produce to work with I set to work back in the warmth of the kitchen. That is some lovely fresh paneer over on the edge there as well as some beautifully fresh mint and curry leaves I plan on using for another dish.

I do suggest getting a simmer mat to do this. You need a good heavy based saucepan so I use a cassoulet dish but every time I make anything like this which is pretty regularly I always say I must get a simmer mat. They sit in your element and act as a diffuser to you don't get that terrifying lava bubbling extreme over flow burn thing happening. I will actually write this down in my must buy list as I never get one when Im thinking about it and now having must had an over may make me remember!~ If you don't have one I suggest to avoid terrifying paste spitting at you and staining your floors and walls, work on a really low heat but keep another element on even lower and I keep switching the elements as they get too hot.See -I told you this would be lengthy.
So I picked up some naan at my local spice trader as I thought Ill focus energy on paste rather than bread. A small cop out yes but I figure I could also clean out one of my kitchen cupboards at the same time and write this up so give us a break !
So back at home with cat moved from her lounge chair to her kitchen position in front of the heater in case of a food offering I started out.
Michal's Butter Chicken
This will make enough paste for 2 large meals so half and freeze or give away.
To make the paste:
4 t smoked sweet paprika
9 t cumin freshly ground
9 t coriander freshly ground
2 t ginger freshly ground
1 t cinnamon freshly ground
1 t fenugreek seeds
1 t black peppercorns
1 t mild to medium freshly ground chilli
1 t caraway seeds
1/2 t cardamom seeds freshly podded
1 T cumin seeds whole
1 t ajwain seeds whole

Pop all in the food processor after being toasted gently and pulse. Add enough grape seed oil to form a paste and allow the motor to run for a good 3 mins or so until the whole spices are well broken down and combined.
Remove the paste and separate in four separate bowls. 2 you will use now and 2 you will keep for future use so pack into freezeable containers.

In one bowl of paste add 180ml fresh full cream plain yoghurt of your choice and mix well.
Add to this 6-7 chicken thighs -bone in or boneless (your choice) and skinless.
Mix well and set aside in the fridge to marinate overnight preferably but at least for three hours.

In your just used food processor puree :
3 onions
6 cloves garlicTurn these out into a heavy based cassoulet dish or cast iron pot and cook gently on a low heat adding a little grape seed if you wish. Traditionally ghee would be added to cook the onion in but I figure we have enough fat as it is .
Once translucent add the remaining spice paste along with :

2 t cumin freshly ground
1 T cumin seeds whole
2 t coriander freshly ground
1 t turmeric freshly ground
2 T good quality Indian mango pickle (the really tart one not sweet one)
2 T ground almond meal
2 Brown cardamom pods, smashed open and seeds removed -discard husks

Allow this mix to cook gently so adjust heat as needed and add water so at to not stick.
Cook for approximately 2 hours adding water as needed.

Once thick and reduced again you can either stop the cooking process and chill in order to hear again the next day and cook for a further 40-60 mins in the same manner.
Or you can add in :
1 can coconut milk or cream
and allow to simmer further for 1 hour.
If you are cooking all in one go carry onto the next step of cooking the chicken.
If you are wishing to stop cooking again after the second heating then again chill and then return to the heat the following day and cook the chicken as below.

Preheat oven to grill function and lay the marinated chicken out on a flat tray.
Reserve all remaining liquids and yoghurt in the bowl and add to the sauce mixing well.  
Grill the chicken on all sides ensuring it has good char
Remove once browned but not cooked through
Place the chicken into the sauce mix and cook for a further 20 mins to enhance all flavours.
Check seasoning adding in grated jaggery or brown sugar for sweetness, another T mango pickle for tartness and salt as needed.

Serve with fresh coriander on top and freshly made naan


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