Easy Chicken Curry

As winter sets in in SA, I cherish this recipe that one of my neighbours taught me to make when I was really just learning to cook. This is a Durban-style curry. A good old South African version that I still turn to as my quick, go-to chicken curry for a winter weeknight supper. (Admittedly, I have thrown some short cuts in along the way, that fortunately don’t detract from the flavour).

Here’s what goes in:
12 chicken thighs, bone in (skin removed if you prefer)
1 onion, finely chopped
Crushed garlic and chilli, to your own taste
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
2 tablespoons Garam Masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cinnamon quill
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons Ghee (or butter)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and chicken seasoning
1 can peeled chopped tomatoes (or fresh diced)
2 cups chicken stock
6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
Fresh coriander, to garnish

How to do it:
Gently melt the ghee (or butter), along with the oil, in a heavy-based cast iron pan or pot that you can place in the oven later, with a lid on. Add the spices and continue to fry until fragrant, being careful to not let it burn. Add the Garam Masala and then the garlic, onion, chilli, and ginger and let it sweat in the spice mixture. Keep a cup of water on hand in case the mixture dries out, in which case you can just top it up with a bit of liquid. In the meantime, coat the chicken pieces in the flour, and season them with chicken spice and salt. Add them to the pan, turning them until they are well coated and slightly browned. (The purpose of the flour here is to thicken your sauce).

Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaf and allow to simmer. Depending on how soft you like your potatoes, you can add them at any time. I do it right away, so that they absorb all the flavour and cook until they are very soft. Cook this for another hour, to an hour and a half, either on the stove top or in the oven at 180º c with a lid on. When it’s done, the gravy should be thick and rich in colour. Check that the potatoes are tender before serving. Top with fresh coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice or naan.

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