Making a curry was the dish that got me into cooking and also experimenting with different spices and flavours. When I first moved to Berlin (many, many years ago – 2008!) it was impossible to find jars of ready made curry sauce or even paste in the supermarkets. In fact, it still is. At the most you can get your hands on a Thai red or green paste and in some very special cases you might be able to buy a madras paste but most of the time it is really down to a bland, generic jar of curry sauce where you are basically left on your own to interpret what kind of curry you are going to get at the end of it. Thankfully Berlin has plenty of Asian stores and although they might now sell a Patak’s madras paste and a selection of pickles and mango chutney these were not available when I first moved here. So I was left to create my own curry using turmeric, cumin, garam masala and fennel seeds and the end result has been plenty of delicious curry nights that are home-made, fresh and healthier than any take out/ jar version.
Saying that, one of the things my husband and I miss the most is going out for a decent curry. I have mentioned a few times that there is a lack of decent Indian food in Berlin. In fact, the best curry we get over here is in my kitchen. A Chicken Madras is a firm favourite but I also love a Jalfrezi, and of course the sides are just as important! Who can resist the crispy and tender Onion Bhajis!? And I love to serve some poppadoms piled high with a mint raita, a finely chopped tomato, cucumber and onion salad and some pickles and chutney.
This Chicken Dopiaza is so easy to make. I like to sweat the onions on a gentle heat for around half an hour in order to get that sweet taste and soft texture to the dish. I also cook the chicken on a gentle heat in all the herbs and spices so that it is tender and falls apart when you eat it. And because I am a firm believer that a curry should be spicy I don’t hold back on the heat- another thing that is lacking in Berlin due to Germany’s inability to consume anything with a little spice!
- 4 chicken breasts (diced into small chunks)
- 3 large onions (2 finely sliced and 1 sliced into small cubes)
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbspn tomato puree
- small slice of butter
- 1 tbpsn size ginger (peeled and grated)
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 3 cardamon seeds
- 1 red chilli (finely sliced)
- 1 tspn dried chilli flakes
- 1 tspn turmeric
- 2 tspn cumin
- 1 tspn garam masala
- Juice of half a lemon
- Small bunch of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
- Sunflower oil
- Salt/ pepper
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large/ deep pan. Once hot add the onions and then turn the heat down to a medium heat. Add a pinch of salt to the pan and the butter and cook for around 10 mins. Then turn the heat down again slightly and leave to cook for another 20 mins. Making sure to stir regularly.
- Add the chicken to the pan and brown on each side for just 2 mins so that the chicken doesn't start to cook and become over browned.
- Add the tomato puree to the pan with the turmeric, garam masala, cumin, chilli, chilli flakes, garlic and ginger. Add the lemon juice and mix well so that all the ingredients are well combined. Leave to cook on a medium heat for another 3-4 mins.
- Pour in the tinned tomatoes and around 300ml of hot water.Add the cardamom seeds and then bring to a boil before turning down again to a gentle heat for around 25/ 30 mins.
- Once the sauce if thick and has reduced take the pan off the heat. Stir in the fresh coriander and season with salt and pepper.