Ginger chicken with curried cucumber and carrot salad
Tuesday, 10 Jan 2017

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I’m cooking my way through a few new cookbooks I got over the Christmas period. One of them is a Pakistani cookbook, Summers Under the Tamarind Tree. I like just sitting down and reading cookbooks, so I tend to gravitate more towards ones with stories and narratives, particularly about other countries and cultures, or someone else’s daily life (if you’re curious, the other books I’m reading are The Food of Oman and The Hot Bread Kitchen). Summers Under the Tamarind Tree has both: descriptions of life in Pakistan and family recipes.

I tried out what looked like the easiest, most straightforward recipe: Karhai ginger chicken. It uses few ingredients, most of which were already in my kitchen. The one change I made was to use pressed garlic instead of garlic puree because a) I don’t have it, and b) if I bought it I probably wouldn’t use it much.

I made a side of curried raw cucumbers and carrots to go with the curry and rice, the recipe for which is below.

Curried cucumber and carrot salad

Ingredients
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • ground chilli or cayenne powder
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • oil for frying (I used coconut)
Method

This is based off a recipe for acar, Malay pickle that's a bit of a kerfuffle to make and has harder to find ingredients. I've made this non pickle and very quick, using supermarket stuff.

First, cut the cucumbers and carrots into sticks (or buy carrot batons). Yes you need to peel the carrots.

Peel the onion and garlic, blitz in a food processor with the ground chilli or cayenne. I use a lot of chilli, like 2 tbsp, but use however much and whatever chilli variety you like. Alternatively you can use 5 dried chillies. Soak them, then drain and blitz with the onion and garlic.

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the blitzed paste.

Add the curry powder to the pan (I use the Rajah brand you find in Asian grocery stores but you can use pretty much whatever you have. Do note that when I've bought korma powder, from Tesco or whatever, it has dairy in it and isn't appropriate for this.)

Mix the curry powder well with the paste, then add the tomato puree, desiccated coconut, sugar and mustard seeds. Stir while it fries, until the consistency of the mixture is thick.

Take it off the heat and dump the cucumber and carrots in (they should be raw, so it's a sort of curried salad). Coat the veg with the paste.


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