Thursday, 5 August 2010

Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry

This can be made with pretty much any vegetables but I like the chewiness of the roasted squash. Quantities should be varied to suit how many you're feeding but I'd allow one medium chicken breast (about 2.5 Points) and approximately 80g of red lentils (dried weight) per person. You can literally bulk it out with whatever vegetables you like as long as they're not potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes or anything else with a Points value (unless you've got room to spare and can count them in).

So, to feed 2 at a value of approximately 6.5 Points per person:

2 medium chicken breasts, diced small
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, diced and roasted with oil spray and sea salt (just a bit)
2-3 courgettes (depending on size) (zucchini if you're not English, haha)
1 yellow or red pepper (or orange! just not green, you want a sweetish one)
1 big onion
garlic to taste - I think I used 4 FAT cloves
1 can chopped tomatoes and a squirt of tomato puree
160g dried red lentils
approx 350ml boiling water

...and spices. Now, I am hopeless at explaining EXACTLY what goes in, but this is roughly what went in this one (by the looks of what order my spice jars were in):

1 scant tsp garam masala
2 tsp tandoori spice
1 tsp cumin
half tsp turmeric
half tsp asafoetida
generous half tsp cinnamon
shake of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
- mix these together in a big teacup with water to make a smooth paste.

You also need about a tablespoon of kalonji black onion seeds, or nigella seeds, to throw in.

Okay so, before you get cracking on the body of the curry, switch on the oven to the highest it'll go and put the shelf to the top. Peel, deseed and dice your squash, arrange it in a roasting tray, give it a good spray of oil and a scrunch of salt and roll it all round so it's coated, then whack it in for ten minutes to start with.

While that's happening get the diced chicken on the move in a large pan, with a spray of oil. Everything's going in one pan btw so make sure it's a big one. While the chicken is sealing/browning, get the garlic ready and crushed, and slice the onion. When the chicken is browned a little add in the onion and garlic and let it all cook down together til the onions are softened and golden. While that's happening, chop the courgettes and pepper ready and make up your spice paste in a teacup. Do use plenty of water in it, possibly about three quarters of your cup full so that it doesnt all just stick. Don't add the onion seeds; keep those back for now.

By this point if your oven hasn't beeped yet it's possibly nearly ten minutes. Check the squash, turn it, and stick it back in for ten more. It should be slightly burned looking when it's ready so don't worry til then!!

Back to the chicken/onion/garlic; it's time to add the spice paste. If you've got your heat up high, get it down to about halfway. You don't want the spice paste to weld itself to the pan. Stir it in thoroughly so everything is coated and give it a couple of minutes and then add the chopped veg. Stir well and then get the lid on and let it steam for five minutes. After that open it back up, add the tomato/tomato puree/onion seeds, stir stir stir, and have a look at your squash.

At this point you're waiting for the squash. When it's ready just pop it all in along with your lentils and boiling water, stir it in thoroughly and pop the lid on. From now on it's just a case of keeping an eye on it to see if the lentils have sucked all the water up and cooked through. If they are stubborn, add a bit more water as you go. Think risotto :) As a final thought, if you're a spinach fan, a double handful won't go amiss in this as it gets towards the end - just dump it in and let it wilt. Lovely.

That's it!

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