I am reliably informed that this is a traditional Parsi dish, and is a recipe for those special occasions that make life a pleasure. I do also have to admit that it had me when I saw the ingredients list there was never a single moment that was going to pass without me having a go. Sorry but I am like that with any curry dish that contains fruit, that chilli juicy sweetness that fruit brings is for me very special indeed; and is a feature of many Arab influenced dishes with this particular example featuring Apricots!
It’s my mums fault dating from the 60’s when I was growing up, my mum used to make what she called curry, using a curry powder, God bless her. At the time the curry powder that was available commercially was the product of post war colonialism mixed with the idea that real indian flavours were far too much for the soft British Palate. The truth was that curry powders of that time were not very good, but they were just good enough over the years for us Brits to fall in love with, and completely adopt the cuisine of India. My mums recipe included some raisins or currants which up until the time I first tasted them in curry I believed belonged in cake. Her curry was in reality a stew with some madras mild curry powder with some raisins or currants thrown in to add that extra Indianess, and the reality of the day was probably that even if she had wanted to use turmeric and coriander she would not have been able to get it, even if she could have worked out what it was.
I am now a little older, and not much wiser but from that moment I was hooked on curries which included the sweet and sometimes the sour of fruits, see my recipe for Pineapple & Vegetable Curry(click) which I love with the saltiness of Gammon.
Fruit is not a rare thing in curry and there are many recipes that feature a few lumps of banana or even pomegranet although one does have to say they are usually the product of someone’s imagination, this dish however has a fine pedigree and is one that you can trust as a genuine dish and worthy of the name and traditions it carries.
The whats in IT bit
For the chicken
200gm dried apricots
2 large fresh tomatoes
4 tbsp. Ghee/ Oil
2x2cm Cinamon sticks
2 onions finely sliced
6 garlic cloves crushed
0.5kg chicken breast
juice of 1 lime or lemon
3tbsp Chopped Coriander
For the Masala
4 Dried Red Chillies
1.5 tsp whole cumin seeds
1tsp whole coriander seeds
1inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces
For the potato straws
2 large potatoes peeled and cut into fine juliennes
.25 tsp turmeric
vegetable oil to fry
.25 tsp chilli powder
1tsp finely chopped coriander
The how to!
First things first, soak the apricots in 250ml of warm water. After about three hours blitz half of them in a processor or blender with about 15oml of the soaking water to a a fine puree……/
set the remainder aside for later use….
Also soak the juliennes potatoes with two tsp of salt to leech out the starch this will help them become nice and crispy when you get round to frying them.
Next take all the masala ingredients and grind them together in a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder if the pestle and mortar is too much work for you
Add the ghee or the oil to your karahi or heavy based pan and heat until hot add the cinnamon sticks and allow to sizzle for a few minutes.
Add the onions, the garlic and ginger and cook until the onions turn that lovely golden brown, then add the masala and sauté until the oil begins to separate out
Be aware though that the mixture can stick and as always all you need yo do is add a dash of water and stir stir stir using your wooden soon to scrape the sticky bits off…..
continue to cook for a few minutes more then add the tomatoes
Now you can add the chicken cut into nice bite sized chunks and also add the pureed apricot and sauté for about five minutes
Add the remaining apricots and the water they are soaking in bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
stir in the coriander and adjust the seasoning…….
Drain the potatoes and put on some kitchen roll and pat as dry as you can get them, cut them into very thin strips, remember you want to deep fry these to a crispy finish so thin is good.
mix them with the turmeric.
Heat the oil for deep frying to the point where the potato straws will fry to crispy golden brown in a matter of moments, fry them off in small batches sprinkle with the chilli powder and the chopped coriander