This is a Delia Smith recipe which contains yoghurt, so it is only of use to those paleo cooks who don’t mind the odd bit of dairy. I cooked it about 2 years ago with the intention of putting it up on the blog and, for the only time in the history of my cooking things for this blog, it failed so miserably that I left it alone and (As far as I can see) never posted it up.
With two more years of cooking experience and more time on my hands I thought I would give it another go. One of the errors that I think I made last time was to use a pack of chicken thighs and drumsticks. These are all very oily joints and were, all together, a bit too much for the dish. On this occasion, with the luxury of a butchery board and cleaver and more time available to me, I followed the recipe and actually started with a whole chicken, cutting it into eight pieces. Well actually I cut it into ten – the breasts were so large that I cut them in half to make the breast pieces the same size as the drumstick, thigh and wing pieces.
It doesn’t take quite as long as you might imagine to cut a chicken into parts (as long as you know your anatomy of a plucked chicken to start with) and with practice I think I could get reasonably fast at it.
For all its fiddly requirements and pre-marinating, the flavours of this dish make it worth trying. I cut up the chicken and put it out on the counter-top marinating at about 10am, not cooking it until 6pm and it survived the day out on the counter without trouble, although our house isn’t the warmest. Whether it would taste as good with only a couple of hours marinating I really don’t know, but I seem to remember that I didn’t have more than an hour for it to marinade last time which could be another reason it didn’t work.
Another change that I made from last time was that the last time I cooked this I only had fresh chillis. In the intervening 2 years I have purchased a dehydrator and now have a jar of dried red chillis stored in the roof for the odd occasion that a recipe calls for dried chillis. I suspect the desire to do this stemmed from this recipe! Having cooked a lot with fresh chillis in the last few years, most notably the Rogan josh recipe that I did this year, I am now quite convinced that it does make a difference using dried chillis. Cooking with these for the recipe below they behaved quite differently to fresh chills and stayed much more intact in the oven dish.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1.6-1.8kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
1½ tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp whole cumin seeds
1tsp whole coriander seeds
8 whole cardamom pods
½ tbsp olive oil
2 onions, very finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 dried red chillis, de-seeded and very finely chopped
1 bay leaf, crumbled
150g natural yoghurt combined with 55ml hot water
- A few hours before cooking arrange the chicken pieces in a roasting dish or shallow casserole dish where they don’t overlap but sit quite snugly together. Make several incisions on the chicken pieces with a sharp knife so that the marinade can penetrate the chicken.
- In a small bowl mix together the garlic, ginger, turmeric and 1½ tbsp oil. Using a teaspoon, apply this mixture to the chicken pieces, smearing it over them as evenly as possible. Cover and leave in a cool place (but not the fridge).
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C, put the roasting tin on a high shelf in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes until the chicken is a golden colour.
- Meanwhile, place the whole cumin, coriander and cardamom pods in a dry frying pan and toss them gently over a medium heat until they turn a shade darker. As Delia explains, warming the spice helps draw the flavour out of them.
- Once warmed, grind the spices to a fine powder (I chose to pick out the woody outer shell of the cardamom pods once I’d crushed them) and set aside for a moment.
- Melt the butter with the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and pepper and cook over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes until softening.
- Add the crushed spices, chillies and crumbled bay leaf to the frying pan, mix in with the onion and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Finally remove the pan from the heat, add the yoghurt and water mixture to the pan and stir in.
- When the chicken has finished its 20 minutes (it took me about 16 minutes to make the spice and yoghurt mix so the timing was perfect), pour the spice mixture from the frying pan over the chicken pieces, cover the roasting tin with two pieces of foil (the double layer insulates it better) and bake for 30 minutes on a slightly reduced heat of 180C.
- After 30 minutes remove the foil and return to the oven for a final 10 minutes.