At Ganapati Restaurant, this dish, a creation of one of the chefs from Nagore in Tamil Nadu, is usually made with guinea fowl, which he was fond of poaching. You may use one if you so wish. At the restaurant, they make their spice paste with fresh grated coconut. You can buy that frozen these days, or use desiccated unsweetened coconut instead.
- 4 tbsp freshly grated coconut
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 4 dried chillies
- 20–30 fresh curry leaves
- 6 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
- 3–4 green chillies
- 6 finely grated or crushed garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp peeled, finely grated root ginger
- 2 medium red onions, halved and finely sliced
- 2 medium white onions, halved and finely sliced
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 whole chicken, about 1.6 kg (3½ lb), skinned and portioned into 10 pieces (drumsticks, thighs, wings and halved breasts)
- 120 ml (scant 4 fl oz) coconut milk
- 4 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
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.
For the spice paste, set a karhai, wok or small frying pan, about 18 cm in diameter, over a medium heat and add the coconut, stirring until it browns. Add the cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds, the peppercorns and dried chillies. Continue to stir for 2 or 3 minutes. As the spices release their aromas, drop in the curry leaves. Stir for 30 seconds, then cool. Grind in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder to a fine, slightly oily powder.
To make the curry, set a large pan, about 25 cm in diameter, over a medium heat. When it’s hot, pour in the oil. Drop in one whole green chilli. Stir and allow the skin to blister for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir and fry for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic just starts to brown. Tip in the onions and sauté for 16–18 minutes, until soft and golden. Add splashes of boiling water to prevent any sticking. Stir in the turmeric. Tip in the spice paste and incorporate thoroughly for 1 or 2 minutes. Now add the tomatoes and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing the tomatoes into the sauce and reducing the heat if the tomatoes seem to catch. Add the remaining green chillies, slit lengthways, and the salt. Mix well, then add the chicken. Brown the meat for about 10 minutes. Pour in 400 ml of water and combine well. Add the coconut milk and coriander. Stir, cover and cook over a low heat for about 35 minutes, or until done.