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Ceylon Chicken Curry

A beautiful cardamom and cinnamon infused chicken curry that can be enjoyed with rice or roti. This has been in my family for years and was probably named in this way because of the strong notes of cinnamon.  It is very light and easy to prepare and is always a hit at parties.

Serves: 4-6                  Prep Time: 20 min       Cook Time: 30 min (give or take, faster if only breast meat is used)

You will need:

  • 1 kg of chicken breasts on the bone or a combination of breasts, thighs and drumsticks (the bones add flavour and richness)
  • 1 medium to large red onion
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic
  • 2 inch piece of root ginger
  • 2-4 hot green chillies, depending on the level of heat you want. 2 for medium, 4 for very hot
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 inch stick of cinnamon or cassia
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes, chopped or a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Small bunch of coriander, chopped

Method:

Remove the skin from the chicken and cut each breast into 4-5 pieces.  The drumsticks and thighs can be left as they are but the skin should be removed.  Scrape the ginger to remove the skin and the peel the garlic cloves.  Cut the chillies into 2-3 pieces.  Grind the garlic, chillies and ginger together in an electric grinder with the salt and a bit of water.  Put this in a mixing bowl with the chicken pieces, add the yoghurt and turmeric and mix to coat the chicken pieces evenly.  Let the chicken marinate in this mixture for as long as possible.  Overnight is best, but if you are in a hurry, you can cook it immediately.

Grind the onion in a food processor and set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole dish.  Add the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods and let these sizzle for 2 minutes until they release a strong aroma.  Regulate the heat to ensure that they do not burn.  Now add the ground onion and fry this for a few minutes until it turns golden and the strong smell of raw onion has gone down. If the smell continues to be strong after 5 minutes (this varies from onion to onion!) add some water and continue cooking. Once the smell has become less noticeable, add the marinated chicken, the tomatoes and a cup of water.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook on low heat for a further 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Check by cutting through a thigh piece and ensuring that there is no pink near the bone or by using a food thermometer.  The deepest part of the meat should stay at a temperature of 75 degrees C for at least 10 seconds.

Taste to check for salt levels and adjust according to your taste.  Add a little hot water if you would like more gravy and thicken with some corn flour dissolved in cold water if you want a thicker gravy.  Add the chopped coriander and simmer for a minute before serving with rice or Indian bread.

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