Start this recipe one day ahead to marinate the chicken. The curry paste can be made ahead of time, if you like. It will keep in the fridge for up to three days, and it also freezes well.
Our chef Charlie made this chicken curry to eat with rice at home, and decided it would be great in a pie. The curry is beautifully fragrant and mildly spiced.
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 thumbs ginger, peeled and finely chopped (approx. 10 cm/4 in)
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- juice of ½ lemon
- 80 ml (2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) vegetable oil
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) skinless chicken thighs, diced
- 1 bunch coriander (cilantro), washed and roughly chopped (including the stalks)
- ½ bunch mint, washed, picked and roughly chopped
- 1 medium brown onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 green chillies, roughly chopped
- 1 thumb ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (approx. 5 cm/2 in)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 clove
- 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 100 g (3½ oz) plain yoghurt
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp nigella seeds
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 8 small pies or 1 large family-size pie
Marinating time: overnight
Roll out the savoury shortcrust pastry into a sheet roughly 4 mm (1/8 in) thick. Wrap the sheet in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Roll out the puff pastry into a sheet roughly 3 mm (1/8 in) thick, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Let the pastry rest after rolling it out – this will stop it shrinking once cut.
To make the chicken marinade, combine the garlic, ginger, turmeric, lemon juice and oil in a large bowl and mix to form a thin paste. Add the chicken and massage the marinade into it. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
For the curry paste, blitz the coriander, mint, onion, chillies, ginger and garlic in a blender or food processor to form a paste. (You may need to add a little water.) Toast the whole spices separately in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 1 minute, until fragrant, moving the pan constantly to avoid burning them. Grind the toasted spices, then mix them into the paste with the black pepper and cinnamon. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and stir to combine, then refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
Put the marinated chicken and the curry paste in a large, heavy based pan, and mix to combine. Cook it over a medium–low heat and bring to a simmer for roughly 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly.
Mix the cornflour with a little water and stir until you have a loose paste, adding more water if needed. Add the cornflour to the chicken and stir until the sauce thickens a little more, then add the yoghurt and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate overnight.
Before you assemble the pies, preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and lightly grease your pie dishes. Lay the savoury shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured bench, and cut out 8 discs of pastry for the bases, 2 cm (¾ in) wider in diameter than the base of your pie dishes. Line each pie dish with a round of shortcrust pastry and press it well into the corners of the base with your thumb. Trim off any excess and lightly brush the edges with the beaten egg.
Lay out your sheet of puff pastry and cut 8 discs slightly larger than the diameter of the top of your pie dishes. Fill each pie generously and top each with a puff pastry lid. Press the edges of the pastry base and lid together to seal.
Brush the top of each pie with egg wash, pierce it a couple of times with a sharp knife or a fork, and sprinkle with the nigella seeds. Bake at 180°C (360°F) for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 160°C (320°F), before baking for a further 30–40 minutes, until the pies are nice and golden. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before eating.
Photography by Bonnie Savage.
This recipe is from The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael James with Pippa James published by Hardie Grant Books (RRP $60) and is available in stores nationally.