Best Chicken Curry

The worst restaurant I have ever been to was a kosher Chinese restaurant outside Washington DC. It wasn’t just the sticky plastic table cloths, the thin film of grease that coated every surface, the flies buzzing around the Persian buffet, or the fact that there was a Persian buffet in a Chinese restaurant. It was also that everything on the menu was described as being in either white sauce, brown sauce, or, even more alarmingly, “special” sauce. It was so disgusting that we didn’t quite know how to convey our displeasure. I don’t think it was the kind of place where complaining to the manager would have had any effect because we were not just complaining about one dish, we were complaining about the whole ethos, the whole raison d’etre of the restaurant. Jon resorted to saying loudly, as we left, after having ordered and not eaten some questionable meats in some questionable coloured sauces, “Where can we go for DINNER? I’m still STARVING.” My retaliation came in the form of a survey of kosher restaurants and shops of the DC area that I was asked to fill in a few months later. Long after I had left DC I continued to receive the yearly email with the survey, and every year I went to the Royal Dragon’s page and ticked “disgusting” at every available point. Oops, did I just tell you the name of the restaurant? Seriously, NEVER go there.

(I felt a bit bad about posting this about a restaurant that I’d been to 6 years ago – what if they had undergone a major transformation? So I had a quick look on a restaurant review site to see if things have changed. Apparently not: “I have never felt sicker after a meal. The worst, probably toxic, food I’ve ever had. We call it Evil Panda.” and
Over priced Kosher dog food (though I would not feed it to my dog)“)

So for obvious reasons I try never to think about that restaurant, but it came to mind recently when I was surfing through various food blogs and recipe websites, and I noticed that lots of people tout things as “The best X ever” – the best roast chicken, the best roast potatoes, the best chocolate chip cookies. I think that’s OK with certain specific foods – in fact, I might even have written about the “best” chocolate mousse a couple of weeks ago. Oh, and I’ve written about the “best” honey cake too. But it’s a bit crass with something like curry because “curry” just means sauce so what do you mean, you’ve got the best chicken in sauce recipe? The best chicken in white sauce? In brown sauce? In special sauce?

But guess what? I’ve got the best chicken curry recipe! Seriously! I found its inspiration on a website which called it “the only curry recipe you’ll ever need”. Of course there are hundreds of great chicken curry recipes and I have several favourites that I make over and over again, but this is the one that always comes to mind when I just feel like a curry. It’s quick and easy to make (a food processor makes it really fast), low fat, with healthy, delicious tomatoes and spinach, neither of which are over-powering if you generally don’t love those ingredients.

It’s also very popular with Joe – I make his without salt and chillies by following my baby-friendly method below – and it fits into his “anything in tomato sauce” category so I can get spinach down him relatively easily.

Makes 4 portions, or 3 adult portions and 2-3 baby portions

  • 2 large chicken breasts, skinned and boned
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 large knob of ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 400g spinach
  • 1tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt
  • Approx 1 tbsp vegetable oil, such as rapeseed
  1. Heat a large deep frying pan or saucepan (with no oil) and add half of the spinach and wilt. Remove the spinach, draining the liquid, and put the wilted spinach into a food processor, blending until you have a paste. Remove from food processor (but no need to wash it up yet) and set aside until later.
  2. Slice the onions into half rings, add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the onions until golden.
  3. While the onions are frying, cut the chicken breast into small pieces.
  4. When the onions are golden, put in the food processor with the garlic, ginger, chillies (deseeded, unless you like a really hot curry) and tin of tomatoes, and then half fill the empty tomato tin with water, add it, and blend.
  5. Put the blended tomato sauce back into the saucepan, and add the chicken. Cover and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Add the spices, salt, pepper and the blended spinach, stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Roughly chop the remaining spinach and add to the saucepan.
  8. Adjust the seasoning, add more salt and cayenne if liked, and then continue cooking for at least another 10 minutes, or to intensify the taste further, for even longer.

*Baby-friendly version*

As above, but at step 4, do not add chillies to the mix unless your baby likes them. Mine does, but his bottom doesn’t, so I do not use them, or only in small quantities. In this case, blend the chillies separately and keep aside.

At step 6, do not add salt.

After step 7, remove your baby’s portion. Add salt and chillies to the remainder.

This recipe, like most tomato sauce-based recipes, freezes really well, so this is a good recipe to batch cook, for both adults and babies.

*Approximate nutritional values (adult portion)*

  • Calories: 224 kcal
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Fat: 7g
  • Protein: 28g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Sodium: 988mg

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