Sunday, 20 May 2012

Chicken Korma in Portsmouth

What an exciting week! I moved from the quite life of Lancashire all the way to Portsmouth, at the other end of the country, to start a new job as a home economist for a major kitchen appliance manufacturer. (Don't know if I'm allowed to name them - I'll check). I'm so pleased that all my hard work at uni (and yes, I did work hard) has paid off. 

It's been a big move. This is the first time I've had my own flat and everything has been a bit mad. So, it was nice to get a few cards and even flowers from my friend Rachel and her family, which were waiting for me when I arrived last Thursday.

Everything's unpacked, but the flat is still a bit untidy with a pile of crushed cardboard boxes stacked in the corner. The kitchen is a little on the small side from what I'm use to, but I suppose it's only going to be me, and occasionally Billy, that I cook for. 

Having no kitchen on Thursday night, this was my first meal...

On Friday, I had a break from unpacking and went off to explore the area a bit more. Literally a few hundred metres away is the museum and (I think close-by) the birthplace of Charles Dickens, then a further 10 minute walk or so is a really nice (and expensive) shopping mall. In the other direction is Southsea, which is where I think I'll be going most of the time. I found a good little butcher (where I got the chicken for this recipe), an Eastern market store, and good kitchen shop. There's also a monthly farmers' market that was on today. I picked up some potted herbs (coriander, parsley and thyme), ox cheeks (which the butcher didn't sell), a couple of pheasant breasts, and a couple of sausages. 

Oh... And I bought this piece of gorgeousness... A hog roast barm.

As I'll be working (hard) during the week, my plan for food is to try and bulk cook a few things at weekends. With the idea of just pulling something out the freezer in the morning for tea later on. I've already brought some chicken pesto kievs and chilli con carne with me. And, as always I need to have curry at least once a week, so that was a must this weekend. 

Chicken korma is probably only second to chicken tikka masala as the nation's favourite curry dish, which is surely down to its creamy sauce, delicate flavours, and unimposing use of chillies. But I think a good korma can be more. In my korma, the Queen of Spices, aromatic cardamom, plays a central role along with the earthiness of almonds and the sweetness of coconut. 

Chicken Korma

I used spring onions here purely because I forgot to get white onions when I was out, but they work just as well. Likewise, I used olive oil instead of butter, but if you have butter use that. 
Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
5 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp each ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cumin, turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes
10 cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discards
1.5kg (about 6-7) chicken breasts, diced
6 tbsp ground almonds
100g desiccated coconut
600ml chicken or water
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

In a large pan, gently heat the oil and sweat the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, until soft. Add all the spices and cook for another minute or so then throw in the chicken. Give a good mix up so all the chicken is coated in the those amazing spices. Pop in the almonds and coconut, and then the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. 

Taste the sauce and add a little more of the any of spices if you feel its needs it - particularly the chilli. Season with our good friends salt and pepper, then stir in the coriander. 

Serve with rice. 

Or, if you're me, portion into six takeaway tubs and freeze. Just add a little water when you reheat one. 

Did I mention the beach is only 5 minutes away, too?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Slow Roast Pork and Banana Splits

Is there a better meal to have on a Sunday than a roast dinner? Probably not. For me, it's the cornerstone of the British family and cuisine. Whether it's pork, lamb, beef, or chicken, there's something for most people. 

I don't think I've got a particular favourite. Other to say that a slow roasted joint is usually the option to go for. It means you can just pop it in the oven in the morning (normally the day before in my case), and forget about it for a few hours. The cheaper joints are better for slow roasting, which makes it an inexpensive meal, too. Leftovers can be used in a variety of ways...