Although this recipe may look difficult because there’s a fairly long list of ingredients some of which you will need to shop for specifically, it’s easily put together. Once you start cooking the spices will fill your kitchen with tantalising aromas and everyone will want to know what you are making and when it is going to be served – it is well worth it!
Chicken thighs 2 tsp crushed coriander seeds ½ tsp crushed black peppercorns Small piece cinnamon bark ⅓ cup chopped shallots 2 Tbsp roughly chopped peeled ginger 1 short stem lemon grass, bashed and finely chopped 4 kaffir lime leaves, ribs removed and roughly chopped 3 spring onions (scallions), trimmed and roughly chopped 1 tsp salt 2 Tbsp orange juice (use juice from squeezed membranes of oranges in tamarind dressing) 4 chicken thighs with drumsticks attached (known as chicken Marylands) Tamarind dressing Knob of tamarind paste as big as a golf ball ½ cup hot water 2 tsp grated palm sugar ¼ tsp salt 2 juicy oranges 1 large red fleshy chilli 1 Tbsp olive oil 2-3 coriander (cilantro) stems, cleaned and finely chopped (¼ cup chopped) 1 star anise
1 Make the marinade for the chicken thighs first. Put coriander seeds, peppercorns and cinnamon bark in a small dry frying pan (skillet) and heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Put shallots, ginger, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, spring onions, salt and toasted spices in a liquidiser or spice grinder and blend together, adding orange juice to prevent stalling. Blend to a lumpy paste.
2 Trim excess fat from chicken thighs. Slash the skin with a sharp knife then put chicken thighs in a shallow ovenproof dish and cover with spice paste. Cover and refrigerate for 2-8 hours.
3 To make the tamarind dressing, put tamarind pulp in a small bowl and pour on hot water. Leave to soften for 5-10 minutes then use your fingers to separate the pulp from the seeds. Strain the mixture through a sieve then push on fibre with a rubber scraper to push through as much pulp as possible. Discard seeds and tough fibre. Stir in sugar and salt. Peel oranges with a small serrated knife removing all the white pith. Cut in between each piece of membrane to release the orange fillets, letting them fall onto a board.
4 Slice chilli finely, discarding seeds for a milder flavour. Put oil in a small saucepan and add chilli and coriander stems. Cook over a gentle heat for a few minutes until chilli is tender, then stir in tamarind pulp and add star anise. Bring to a bubble and simmer for 5 minutes, then cool. Discard star anise and add orange segments (chop orange segments if preferred).
5 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Bake for about 1 hour, basting several times, or until chicken is cooked through. Spoon over tamarind sauce and serve.
If you would like to use duck breasts instead of chicken thighs, buy 4 boned duck breasts. Rinse and pat them dry. Remove excess fatty part then slash the skin with a sharp knife, being careful not to go past the fat layer into the flesh. Preheat oven to 215°C (420°F). Transfer duck breasts to a rack set inside a roasting tin, skin side down. Roast for 10 minutes, turn breasts over and roast for a further 5 minutes. Have ready a large heavy based pan (skillet) heating over a medium heat. Add duck breasts skin side down and cook until a good deep golden colour (be careful not to have the heat too high or the spice paste will burn). Transfer to a plate, spoon over tamarind sauce and serve.