Chicken, lentils and vegetable stew

This was a ‘it’s in the cupboard’ recipe. It’s cheap and makes enough for 6 serves.


5 chicken wings
2 sticks of celery diced
2 carrots peeled and diced
1-2 onions peeled and diced
several cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
tin of tomatoes, crushed if not already
a cup of red lentils, washed and picked over if necessary
water or stock of some sort
ghee (or oil for frying)
some sweet paprika (I used 1 teasp)
some roasted and ground cumin (I used 1 teasp)
some chilli powder (I grind mine and it’s superhot, so I didn’t use much)
salt and pepper to taste.


Fry onions until softening, add celery, carrots and then after a few minutes the garlic. Keep stirring. Low enough heat that nothing burns, especially the garlic. Add the paprika, cumin and chilli powder to taste. Next the tomatoes, perhaps two cups of water and the lentils. Stir thoroughly to make sure the lentils aren’t clumped together, bring to the boil and simmer, covered. I’d say quite a strong simmer, but less than brisk. Stir from time to time and add more water as may be necessary. I wanted something thicker than a dahl, which is why I started with only 2 cups of water. I added a bit more water at some point.

Cook all this for a couple of hours. Then debone the chicken and return to the pot.

Leave for a day.

Good with rice, with mash, stirred into pasta. Obviously one could vary this to make it more Indian-like or more European….I would be curious to see what happens if you use green lentils or chickpeas, if it comes to that.

If you want this meatier – it is a small amount of chicken, 5 wings, you can add more chicken. Maybe later in the cooking process, since wings appreciate long cooking the most.

Poached chicken salad

Personally, I’d rather chew my own arm off than eat chicken breasts that other people have cooked. It is almost never the appropriate cut of chicken to use, tasteless with a bad texture.

But. IF you cook it properly. Maybe…

So, you must poach the chicken extremely lightly, to just undercooked…it will finish cooking as it cools. Something like a little water – maybe an inch, no more – in the pan with a dash of soy and sesame oil and a slice of ginger. Bring to a gentle simmer, add the breasts, cover pan and simmer for maybe a couple of minutes before turning so that the top is now in the liquid. Another couple of minutes and let it sit and cool in this liquid.


Destem baby leaf spinach.

Mix the chicken and spinach with this divine dressing:

Plain yoghurt
Some sort of jam – peach, maybe apricot. It can be that crappy French jam which proudly announces it has no sugar in it. I mean honestly. Jam is ALL sugar. You bought this accidentally, or someone ignorant gave it to you…it’s dreadful stuff on its own, but perfectly useful in this dish.
Good quality white wine vinegar
Green tomato chutney – this I make myself and I will post the recipe.

Fresh bread on the side.

A perfect summer lunch.

Everyday Chicken in a Fried Onion Sauce: a Madhur Jaffrey recipe

Aren’t everybody’s favourite foods the ones you can eat every day? I love this one, one of the first I ever tried from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.

She would be the first to say that in all Indian cooking use meat with bones, it makes all the difference. In this case get a mixture of drumsticks, thighs and wings. Don’t bother skinning the wings, but do skin the rest. I ask the butcher to cut off the wing tips, leaving the meaty other parts.

Everyday Chicken in a Fried Onion Sauce

Serves 4-6
1 kg chicken pieces, skinned, on pain of death not breasts, anything but.
4 medium onions peeled
1 ½ inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic peeled
7 Tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 Tbsp ground cumin seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ – ½ tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp plain yogurt
2 ½ cup water
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (canned tomatoes may be substituted)
2 tsp salt
½ tsp garam masala
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

  • Coarsely chop 2 onions. Cut remaining onions into halves lengthwise and in very thin slices.

  • Put chopped onions, ginger and garlic in a food processor. Blend until a paste.

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium flame. When hot, put in sliced onions. Stir and fry until they are a deep, reddish brown color. Remove onions with a slotted spoon, squeezing out as much oil as possible to leave in pot. Set onions aside.

  • Remove pot from flame. Put in the blended paste (avert eyes), place back on medium heat, stir and fry until browned (3-4 minutes). Add coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne; stir once. Add 1 Tbsp of yogurt. Stir for 30 seconds until incorporated. Add remaining yogurt 1 Tbsp at a time. Add chicken pieces and stir to cover (1 min).

  • Pour in water, tomatoes and salt. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn to low heat and cook for 20 minutes. Sprinkle in the garam masala and fried onions. Cook uncovered on medium heat for 10 minutes (until sauce reduces and thickens).
  • Chicken salad

    Chicken salad for two

    One of those things that tastes good and is good for you.
    I imagine omitting the chicken would make a nice vegetarian option. You could add nuts to make it a bit more substantial.


    sliced chicken – I had a chicken in the fridge which had been steamed Chinese style, so I used the breasts.
    baby leaf spinach
    fennel bulb trimmed and shaved
    red seedless grapes – nice for the colour, but green would do
    half a pear, peeled, cored and sliced

    Dressing: mix together
    1/2 a cup of plain yoghurt
    dessertspoon of Dijon mustard
    dessertspoon of chilli jam

    Toss through the salad and serve.

    A chicken curry on the cuff

    Chicken curry. For the recipe for the accompanying orange worms see the last post.
    Chicken curry. For the recipe for the accompanying orange worms see the last post.

    12 pieces of chicken, NOT breasts.
    Several onions finely chopped
    5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
    about the same quantity of ginger finely chopped
    tomatoes – I used two huge fantastic ones that are still available from the market. Maybe a couple of tins, if you need to. Seed and chop the tomatoes.
    fresh curry leaves if about
    Julie Sahni’s master curry powder 2 tblesps
    coconut milk or creamed coconut
    ghee, at least several tblesps

    Chicken curry
    Chicken curry

    On medium heat fry the onion in the ghee until softened, add the garlic, ginger and curry leaves and fry for another couple of minutes, stirring. Next add the curry powder and stir, thoroughly mixing everything. A minute or so later add the chicken and fry, coating it with the mixture you’ve been making there. After a few minutes, making sure the chicken is starting to cook and is nicely covered, add the tomatoes, turn heat to high, bring to boil, again while stirring. When at a boil turn to low, cover, and simmer for at least half an hour. Chicken falling off the bone in a curry is a fine thing, so it could easily cook another half hour or so.

    When ready to serve, first add the coconut and bring to a simmer again without covering.


    Accompany this with rice.

    Allspice chicken curry

    The road to a new curry is often paved with good intentions, in this case to follow a Rosemary Moon recipe whilst lacking an ingredient or two. It has all turned out for the best.

    Allspice chicken curry
    Allspice chicken curry


    A chicken in pieces, skinned, or the equivalent therefore. I began in this case with 2 each of drumstick and thigh, and perhaps 10 wings less the tips.
    2 tblsp ghee
    1 large onion finely chopped
    several cloves of garlic finely chopped
    an inch piece or so of ginger finely chopped
    1 teasp whole cumin seeds

    2 sticks of cinnamon broken up
    6 cardamom pods slightly split – pick nice dark oily ones, not the dessicated light coloured ones which are quite past their use-by date.
    3 whole dried chillies

    1 teasp tumeric ground
    1 heaped teasp paprika ground NOT smoked!!
    1 heaped teasp all spice ground

    200-500g of green beans, topped, tailed and diced

    About 1 or 1.5 can of tomatoes pureed.
    Several fresh green chillies – if you so wish.


    Heat a large, wide pan with a good bottom on moderate heat. Add ghee and, when hot, the cumin seeds. They should pop straight away, so quickly add the onions and fry until softened – you aren’t trying to brown them, 5 minutes may suffice. Add the garlic and ginger, stir and fry for a minute and then add the other whole spices. Mix, stir for a moment or two and then add the ground spices.

    After these have also been well mixed, add the chicken, frying both to cover with the spicy contents and to change the colour of the chicken so it isn’t in its completely raw pink state. Maybe 5 minutes or so. Now the tomato puree is added, raise the heat to bring the dish to boiling point and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Turn chicken over now and again, make sure it all gets a shot at the sauce.

    At some point add the beans – it is really up to you to decide how cooked you want them. I like them quite soft in a dish like this, but then, I do overcook the chicken too, so maybe half an hour after the chicken’s been added. Towards the end add the fresh chillies if using.

    That’s it, folks.

    Notes: I skinned the legs and rendered the fat before adding ghee to it. You can, of course, eat the crispy skin by product – cook’s privilege. I never use a whole chicken for this sort of thing – the chicken breast isn’t up to it.

    Best on day two and three.