Spicy Baked Chicken Masaledar Murghi

This is a Madhur Jaffrey dish. It’s really nice at room temperature, so it makes great picnic food and also a convenient dish to cook ahead and then serve.

I wrote this in 2012:

I’ve made this many times in my life, always on a BBQ until this week. A wood or coal fire is obviously best. Use thin cuts of meat: chicken ribs if you are in Australia, maybe the stick bit of the wing in other places which don’t seem to do the ‘rib’, more’s the pity; boneless thigh cut into small chunks and put on skewers

In Geneva I can not get the cuts I would prefer to use: boneless thigh doesn’t seem to exist and as for the rib, forget it. Not to mention being BBQless. In an electric oven, I suggest thighs – I found them more successful than the drumstick, maybe because they permit more even cooking. I covered them with foil at a point where I wanted to cook them a bit more without having them burn. Not perfect by any means, but it worked.

2020 update: you can also do this in a covered pan on top of a hotplate. Make it more liquidy to begin with and dry out towards the end.

Spicy Baked Chicken Masaledar Murghi
Oven: 210C
Preparation: 30 mins
Marinating: 3 hours
Cooking: 60 mins


  • 1.5 kgs chicken pieces
  • 6 tblsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 3 tblsps veg oil
  • 1 tblsp cumin
  • 1 ” paprika
  • 1 ” tumeric
  • 1 1/2 teasp cayenne
  • 1 1/2 teasp black pepper1. Mix all ingredients less chicken and oil in bowl.2. Rub well over chicken pieces pushing into flaps and into slits along drumsticks.

    3. Spread on baking tray, set aside for 3 hours.

    4. Brush top of chicken with oil. Bake in preheated oven for 30 mins each side, baste occasionally.

If I don’t have cayenne, I combine hot paprika and mild. I

If cooking in a frying pan, I put oil/ghee down first and then add the chicken in all its basting paste.

The simplest Thai soup stock

Good ingredients let you keep it simple, which is especially useful if you aren’t organised. Like tonight’s dinner, which got rustled up.


  • Spencer Gulf King Prawns to taste. At least 5 x serve. Green in shells.
  • noodles – we had ramen noodles in the fridge, so that was it.
  • lime juice to taste – we used half a lime for two of us tonight.
  • sugar
  • chilli oil
  • fish sauce
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • fresh mint – we just have ordinary mint in the garden
  • water


Put some water in a pan and bring to boil. Add heads of prawns for a couple of minutes and remove. I used a slotted spoon.

Peel prawns and devein.

Add chilli oil and a little sugar to the stock, and a generous splash of fish sauce. Adjust to taste.

My noodles were fresh, so I threw them into the stock, they only needed a couple of minutes once they’d come to the boil. If your noodles are dry, cook them in separate water and then add. When the noodles are close to cooked, throw in the prawns, which only need a minute, if that. They will keep cooking in the hot stock.

At the table present the coriander, mint and lime juice to be added by each person to taste.

Really just making a record of this so I can remember it next time.

Note: prawns defrost really quickly, you only need an hour.






Kale pesto: the good and the bad news

We happened to pick up some organic kale straight from a garden on our way home a few days ago. A couple of options stood out for using it, one being pesto.

I just did pretty much the same as I do with ordinary pesto except the green is kale. I did take out the stalks and ribs first.

It tasted FABULOUS. Which is obviously good….

But maybe bad? I love things being seasonal. To me one of the joys of summer is basil and that means pesto. The idea that I can have pesto out of season is one I’m going to have to chew over, but I’m afraid it’s going to be hard to swallow.

Signed: confused.

Hard-boiled eggs in spicy cream sauce Madhur Jaffrey

Hard-boiled eggs in spicy cream sauce

The first time I made this, the sister of the person I was living with was coming to dinner. EGGS???!!!! What SORT of dinner food is that?

Maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s lunch or breakfast or something. But…

But I adored it. Eggs and curry. They were born to be together.


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1″ (2.5cm) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
½ -1 fresh, hot green chilli, finely chopped – seeded if you are mouse, not man
1.5 cups (275ml) cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground, roasted cumin seeds *
a pinch of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons tomato purée
¼ pint (150ml) chicken stock
6-8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut crosswise into halves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander


Heal oil over medium heat in large, non-stick frying pan, add onion and stir, frying for a few minutes until just starting to brown. Add the ginger and chilli, stir for a minute or so and then add all the other ingredients but the eggs and coriander. Give this a good stir to mix while bringing to a simmer.

Put all egg halves into the sauce in a single layer, cut side up. Spoon sauce over them. Cook over medium heat for about 5 mins, spooning sauce over the eggs frequently. By this time, the sauce should have become fairly thick and you’ve been gentle so the eggs are in one piece still. Well, two in a manner of speaking. You can just serve into plates or bring to the table in a serving dish, eggs neatly yolk side up with the sauce gently added to them. The coriander is now sprinkled on top.

Serve with rice. This is I can’t stop salivating good.

* Roast the cumin seeds in a small frying pan with a good heavy base. Keep an eye on them, you want them to turn a bit darker but NOT burn. They will smell ready. I make up a quantity of these now and then, keep some whole and grind some which will then live in its own container…

This recipe is Madhur Jaffrey’s. I’ve worded it to taste.

Australian French Onion Soup

I’m not a big fan of French Onion Soup. Maybe it’s because it’s too salty, like all French food, if cooked according to tradition. Maybe the beef stock is too gutsy. Not to mention… use what’s in the pantry. In this case, I discover I have way too many onions.


  • 4 large brown onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 100g butter
  • water
  • chicken stock (definitely not the time for the cube)
  • port
  • strong bread
  • cheddar cheese


  • in a large frying pan that has a lid, fry the onions until tending towards caramelised. You do need to stir all the time and you do need to take your time. I did these until soft and brown, not dark brown and not at all dry yet. They were not done in that Indian way where they will entirely dissolve into the rest of your cooking. I start off high heat and turn down as required to avoid burning
  • add the port and a bit of water, mix, bring to the boil and cook on a high simmer until the port smells cooked.
  • Add a carton of good quality chicken stock, or stock made yourself. Bring to boil and then simmer for half an hour.
  • I cooled this down and left in the fridge overnight. Not many soups are best served fresh.

While soup is heating:

Put the oven on 180C, toast the bread in a toaster – we had ciabatta, it needs to be something strong that won’t fall apart in the soup. Place sliced mature cheddar on top and put in the oven for cheese to melt. I don’t have a griller. I am sure gruyere would be fine, should you have it about.

Serve soup in bowls with toasted cheese on top.

I can’t say I’ve turned it around. French Onion Soup will never be more than a ‘let’s not have the same soups as usual’ change. But it does for that.



Cumquats in a salad

This is especially for Phil. I have a cumquat addict in the house, against the odds by far, since nobody I have ever known likes them. It made me wonder what one could do to make them work for the population at large.

The trick is to salad them….

Rocket, Pecan and Cumquat salad

Wash and dry the rocket, place in a salad bowl.

Toast pecans and sliver, add to the rocket.

Slice the cumquats and take out the seeds, which I gather are rather nasty unless you are a true KQ addict. I expect they would be nice simply added to the mix now, but if you want to go slightly unhealthy and do something decadent with them, fry them in butter, add a little sugar to caramelise them – that didn’t happen for me, but I imagine the sugar was still a nice addition.

Deglaze the pan by adding vinegar and olive oil, mix thoroughly with the cumquats and their sauce. Put all this on the rocket and pecans, mix thoroughly.


Really not bad. Obviously one would have any number of variations. But the bottom line is, it’s a lovely thing to do with the cumquats, which will have a beautifully slightly tart, slightly sour, slightly sweet impact.

Do this with enough of them and it would make a nice sauce accompanying a piece of roast meat/chicken for example. I imagine starting with shallots and then adding cumquats could be nice too.


Dressing for carrot and cucumber

Just so as I don’t forget:

Coarsely grate carrot and cucumber. Squeeze cucumber to remove excess liquid.


  • Tamari
  • sesame oil
  • lemon juice
  • sugar
  • rice vinegar or similar
  • neutral oil like grape
  • toasted sesame seeds

You can mix all this up including half the sesame seeds with the carrot and cucumber. Then garnish before serving with the rest of the seeds.

Peasants at the forefront of dealing with catastrophic climate change

Rwanda at a project to reclaim degraded farmland ‘The most important thing is to have people with you on your side’.

Obviously we can’t do this sort of thing in Australia. You need to be poverty stricken peasants in order to fix the land and bring water back to it. Pity.

This report, towards the end, points out how cost-effective fixing degraded land is as a way of dealing with climate change. But this necessitates a different way of living where people can look beyond their very short term interests and understand that big business, aided and abetted by government, is the very opposite of what the planet needs. Obviously can’t happen in Australia.

Climate change catastrophe: the importance of water

It isn’t that there is no good news available on the issue of water generally and its impact on rising sea levels. But why would we hear it when the wholesale plan of global media, the wealthiest few and politicians in the main, is that they want to bring it on. They want us to believe we are helpless. They want total control and where better to start than with water?

So you have to look between the cracks, for the hidden possibilities.
WATER: THE MISSING LINK TO SOLVE CLIMATE CHANGE A Global Action Plan is such a work. It describes the enormous impact of water runoff into the oceans on rising sea levels, the runoff being a consequence of  factors including deforestisation and, of course, urbanisation. The ways of dealing with this are incredibly simple and best for the land as well as for the ocean. After all, it is water that once upon a time stayed on the land. To quote:

November 2015: After five years of extreme drought, the long-desired rain is finally falling in California. What could actually be a blessing quickly develops into the next catastrophe. Torrential rain pours down onto desiccated land. In Lancaster, for example, 80 liters of rainwater per square meter fell in only half an hour. The rain hits sealed, developed, overgrazed, parched and hardened ground. Where once humus-rich forest floors absorbed and stored these waters, it now rushes down the slopes carrying with it the last remaining fertile soil. Straightened river beds are deluged, flooding streets and basements, causing millions of dollars in damages. The land is left even more bleak and barren.

What happens in California is the symptom of a global phenomenon. Forests are cut down; water is driven out as quickly as possible through drainage; soil is sealed; cities create “hot spots” whose thermal lift no longer allows the clouds to discharge its rain.

The author of this article Michal Kravcik, has been running one of those thankless campaigns that wonderful people around the world have committed their lives to: getting people to understand that they have power over water and how to exercise it.

People and Water NGO encourages Slovaks to take advantage of their newly-minted democracy by organizing town meetings where citizens questioned officials about the legality of water usage. As result, in November 1996, the Environmental Ministry canceled the dam proposal. It was Michal Kravcik, Chairman of People and Water NGO who showed how drinking reservoirs had not been used in full and how much water was wasted by an old and repair – needed distribution systems. His alternative plan outlined the repair of these problems while minimizing the impact on environment.

The mission of the undertaking “People And Water” is to provide services to municipal and rural communities, mostly within the Carpathian region. The goal is to solve the economic, social, cultural and environmental problems on a grassroots level by encouraging citizens to be active through development, renewal and promotion of the traditional culture and diversity of this region.

He participated in the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen from 7 – 18 December 2009 and, interviewed at the time, said

My expectations are simple: to incorporate in the Copenhagen Protocol a mechanism of using water for recovery of the climate based not only on local and regional – but also on continental and global level of the Planet Earth. Until now, all initiatives for solution of climatic changes addressed only CO2 reduction, and through this, to stop the breakup of the Earth´s climatic system.

Somehow we keep forgetting that water is the thermoregulator of heat. So where there is enough water, the landscape heats only slowly, while where is dry weather, the landscape overheats fast reaching big differences in temperature e.g. between night and day – or winter and summer. According to our estimates, each year over 700 billion m3 rainwater vanishes from continents – that in the past had been soaked and saturated in soil, and evaporated in the atmosphere. This is how rainwater kept the climate within limits – without any extreme floods, droughts or sudden shifts in climate.

It is hard not to smile when a person says his aim to save the planet is ‘simple’, but when you read about what he does and what others are also doing in micro ways around the world, the word that overwhelmingly applies is simple. It is all so simple that I’m starting to wonder why that explains how all these efforts are ignored by us. Because if the methods are simple and relatively non-technological, then what’s in it for big business? And if the answer is ‘nothing’, then one can see how the process of empowerment at local small level is never going to take on, certainly not in Australia.

Instead, Australia will stay as it is right now. Watching the burning, watching the drought, and hoping for handouts. Everything will be reactive, not proactive. We believe hogwash we’ve been told – it isn’t for us to change, there isn’t anything we can do, if the whole world does nothing, then what’s the point of us changing?

And while we sit about concurring on this, in the world there are villages in Slovakia, in India, in China, in Africa, which are dedicating their existence to changing how they do things….and it is working for them. But hey. Just because peasants in Africa, and India, and China, and Africa can backtrack on bad methods and turn arid land into that of green and plenty, why would we Australians be able to?

Catastrophic climate change: ideas for ‘making’ water

Rajendra Singh and the TBS have revolutionised the state of water in Rajasthan, India. They have done that by simple methods of low cost and low technology. This has led to their winning the Water ‘Nobel Prize’. The story starts like this, quoting wiki:

Alwar district, which once had a grain market, was at the time largely dry and barren, as years of deforestation and mining had led to a dwindling water table, minimal[clarification needed] rainfall followed by floods. Another reason was the slow abandoning of traditional water conservation techniques, like building check dams, or johad, instead villagers started relying on “modern” bore wells, which simply sucked the groundwater up. But consistent use meant that these bored wells had to be dug deeper and deeper within a few years, pushing underground water table further down each time, till they went dry in ecologically fragile Aravalis. At this point he met a village elder, Mangu Lal Meena, who argued “water was a bigger issue to address in rural Rajasthan than education”.[3] He chided him to work with his hands rather than behaving like “educated” city folks who came, studied and then went back; later encouraged him to work on a johad, earthen check dams, which have been traditionally used to store rainwater and recharge groundwater, a technique which had been abandoned in previous decades. As a result, the area had no ground water since previous five years and was officially declared a “dark zone”. Though Rajendra wanted to learn the traditional techniques from local farmers about water conservation, his other city friends were reluctant to work manually and parted ways. Eventually with the help of a few local youths he started desilting the Gopalpura johad, lying neglected after years of disuse. When the monsoon arrived that year, the johad filled up and soon wells which had been dry for years had water. Villagers pitched in and in the next three years, it made it 15 feet deep.[5][1]

The battle was not just against nature, but was also political. Their efforts were being thwarted by mining. But unlike Australia, there is some backbone in parts of India to fight for water against mining interests.

A legal battle ensued, they filed public interest petition in the Supreme Court, which in 1991 banned mining in the Aravallis. Then in May 1992, Ministry of Environment and Forests notification banned mining in the Aravalli hill system all together, and 470 mines operating within the Sariska sanctuary buffer area and periphery were closed. Gradually TBS built 115 earthen and concrete structures within the sanctuary and 600 other structures in the buffer and peripheral zones. The efforts soon paid off, by 1995 Aravri became a perennial river.[1][6] The river was awarded the `International River Prize’…

There is a lot more to the story, but for now observe that it is working. Areas that were bereft are now green again.


So, how about it, Australia??! If villagers in India can do this, why can’t we? As well as using low tech small scale methods, for harvesting rainwater, we also have the advantage of being able to build desalinisation plants and pipe water inland. Australia has to make water a priority, and it has to be a priority for the land itself, not for mining or other interests that are damaging to the land, to water supply, to food supply, to the very idea of existence in this country.

But perhaps Mimmi Jain has the last word on that:

“How can we make this movement – the bringing back of resource ownership into the hands of the common man – global? In India it’s possible. Is it possible in the west? That’s a tricky question, because it’s a different kind of system altogether. You have privatisation of companies, lots of vested interests, lots of big corporations. It’s a really stuck system,” she said.

The Australian population has to take control of water. It has to incorporate it into the notion of ‘rights’ both for us and for the water systems themselves. Question is, do we have what it takes to do that?