I realise that everyone doesn’t need to see the appalling mess which litters my desk, but there just isn’t time to make it pretty. In 10 minutes it’ll be eaten. Either by me, or, because I’m still baking na’an breads, by the dog if I lose focus. She has surreptitiously inched closer and is now directly below my dinner.
The point is this: here is my curry. It was mega easy to make (and believe me, I know a thing or two about being terrified of a recipe). I shied away from making curry from scratch for a long time, and the first time I attempted it, I was actually 30. No other type of meal has been held off for so long in the history of Sakina.
Anyway, I’m too lazy and busy today to make a proper curry using the fabulous 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi, and neither do I have enough ingredients, so I cheated, and made a thoroughly unauthentic one, and you can too.
I’m gonna give you the curry instructions first, and the na’an bread ones second, because I have a feeling that the curry will be more likely to be made than the na’an (even though they are easier than making ordinary bread).
You will need:
Chicken breast x the number of people who are eating. Or more. I usually go for more.
2 x onions – one chopped, one sliced
Yellow/red bell pepper
Your favourite curry paste (I used Madras)
Chop the chicken into large bitesize pieces, and marinade in a tablespoon of curry paste and a few slugs of oil. I managed to do this several hours before dinner, so it worked very well, but that’s a rarity for me.
When you’re ready to cook, sling the onion into the bottom of a wide/large pan, with a few more slugs of oil, and fry on a low/med heat for ages. 10-15 minutes.
Wang some curry paste (how much depends on how hot you like it) into the pan, cook for about 30 seconds, and then heave a bunch of lentils in. I don’t know how many! Whatever you think. Err on the side of caution, is all, or you’ll be eating lentils for a fortnight.
Pour loads of water on top, bring to the boil, and simmer until the lentils are soft and cooked. I put a stock cube in for flavour and instead of salt, but it’s up to you.
I strung the pieces of chicken, alternated with chunks of yellow pepper onto some wooden skewers which I had hanging around since someone’s BBQ a few years ago, but you’re just as safe to bake them in a tray. Oven was at about 200 degrees C. (I wasn’t really paying attention).
When the lentils are cooked, if you have a handblender, knock yourself out – I don’t like it too smooth, just thick with texture. That’s why I sliced some of the onion.
When the chicken is cooked, unstring it into the curry, cook for a little longer, and away you go!
Homemade Na’an Breads
I got the recipe off a wicked little website called Aayi’s Recipes.
12oz plain or strong white breadflour
half tsp sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
3/4 tsp salt
2 tblsp plain yoghurt
3 tbsp water
Some nigella seeds (onion seeds)
Dissolve the salt and sugar into the water (needs to be slightly warmed), and add the yeast. Give it a whisk, stretch some cling film over the top of the container, and leave in a warm place (I only gave it 5 minutes).
Mix the flour with all the other ingredients except for the onion seeds, and you’ll have a fabulous, bosom-soft bread dough. Knead that on a floury surface for a few minutes, and then stick it somewhere warm. Some brave people rise bread in the oven. I. Do. Not. Dare.
After the dough’s approximately doubled in size, heave it out, knock all the air out of it, cut it into half, then those pieces in half again, and roll out one of the pieces on a very floury surface. (BTW, the oven is now at 220 degrees C, for those who didn’t notice the sleight of hand there). If you have onion seeds, sprinkle them onto the floured surface. They’ll press in as you roll.
It doesn’t matter what shape the breads are, but they go quite easily into the tear shape that we’re used to seeing in supermarkets.
According to Aayi’s Recipes, it wants to be rolled out thicker than a chapati, and thinner than a paratha. Just play with it, experiment. I did.
Onto a hot baking tray, into the oven, and see what happens. They’re supposed to ‘puff up’. My first one was like a rugby ball, but the others puffed up randomly.
They stay in the oven for almost 7 minutes; just before then, get it out, turn it over, pour olive oil or garlic butter over it, and heave it back in again.
They’re ready when they look like na’an bread. This can happen for you.
And finally …
No one really needs a recipe for a salad, but cachumba is ace with curry. All I do is dice some cucumber really small, and half a red onion, mix the two together and add a couple of teaspoons of mint sauce. Give it all a good mix.