I seldom follow recipes when it comes to Indian food. I had got very cocky and reckoned I’d cracked it. There then followed a trio of dishes which were, as they might say it in my home town in Fife, pish poor.
But undeterred, a pack of chicken thighs in hand and not a great deal of time (relatively speaking), I decided that a wee Ruby on a chilly Monday night might just be dandy, not to say grandy. Doing a curry properly I will have a wondrous paste of garlic, chill and ginger to add to the long slow cooked onion base, then another 40 days and nights to produce perfection. Ah well, not today. Read on. But do be aware that I wouldn’t be writing about it if it hadn’t been rather good. I also had a jar of preserved lemons, an ingredient more normally associated with Moroccan cuisine. What care I? Nothing wrong with fusion cooking, if the end result is tasty.
Ingredients (serves 4, or 3 greedy people)
4 chicken thigh fillets, fat removed, cut into six pieces each; 2 large onions, sliced thinly in half moons; 1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced; 2 red chillies, seeded (or not – up to you) and finely chopped; thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated; 3 cloves of garlic, crushed; 1 tsp tomato purée; 1 tin chopped tomatoes; 1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed; ½ tsp ground coriander; ½ tsp ground turmeric; ½ tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp garam masala; 2 preserved lemons, quite finely chopped; salt and pepper; veg oil; water.
Mix the chicken pieces with one of the cloves of garlic and some salt while you prep the other ingredients. Gently fry the onions until they are golden. Emphasis on gently – this will take about 20 minutes. Once they are starting to colour, add the peppers and chillies and continue the slow fry. After a few more minutes, add the garlic, the spices, and a little salt. Bring the mixture together with a squeeze of tomato purée, and loosen with a little water. Stir well, then add the tomatoes. Put in the chicken and increase the heat for a few minutes. Finally, add the chickpeas and the preserved lemons and a little more water. Simmer for as long as you like, topping up the liquid as required. The chicken needs to be cooked through (obviously) and the consistency as thick as you like. I guess the whole cooking time was around the 50 minute mark.