Just make this one!
4 Tbsp ghee or clarified butter 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped Small piece ginger, as big as your thumb, peeled and chopped 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 x size 14 chicken (1.4kg/about 3 pounds), patted dry 12 cardamom pods 1 tsp cumin seeds 2 tsp coriander seeds ½ tsp fenugreek seeds 2 stems curry leaves, leaves removed from stems, plus extra to fry as a garnish, optional 1 tsp turmeric 1 tsp hot chilli powder 1 tsp salt 200ml (about 7 fluid ounces) canned tomatoes, crushed 1 Tbsp tomato concentrate Finely grated zest 1 lemon and 2 Tbsp lemon juice 150ml (5 fluid ounces) canned coconut cream
1 Preheat oven to 170°C (325°F).
3 Tie chicken legs together with string. Choose a casserole big enough to fit the chicken and heat casserole over a medium heat. Drop in 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter and brown chicken all over, turning with tongs and a wooden spoon. Brown the chicken slowly, lowering the heat if necessary, and try not to tear the skin. See Recipe Notes at end of recipe.
4 Meanwhile, whack cardamom pods with a mallet and extract seeds. Put cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds in a small blender and grind (or crush in a mortar and pestle). Add ground spices, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, if using, turmeric, chilli powder and salt to onions. Fry gently for a few minutes, stirring several times. Add tomatoes, tomato concentrate and lemon zest and juice and bring to a gentle bubble. Stir in coconut cream.
5 Pour off excess fat from chicken in casserole. If this is difficult to do because the pan is heavy, scoop off as much fat as possible with a spoon then mop the rest with paper towels. Pour the spicy onion mixture over the chicken. Cover casserole with a lid and transfer to preheated oven. Cook gently for 40 minutes. Remove casserole from oven, then tilt chicken so that liquid pours out of the cavity into the juices. Add ½ cup water to juices and stir the liquid to blend. Return covered casserole to oven and cook for a further 40 minutes, basting once more, or until chicken is cooked through. If sauce is very thick, add a little more water.
6 Remove casserole from oven and leave it covered for 30 minutes to cool. This will allow the flavours to penetrate the chicken meat. When ready to serve, transfer the chicken to a platter, remove string, and break apart into joints; the chicken should be so tender it barely needs a knife to cut it.
7 Optional garnish: Briefly sizzle a few stems of curry leaves in hot oil.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com
This is another dish which seems to improve after a night’s repose in the fridge – but warm it up slowly before serving (best done in the oven, covered), although small portions reheat well in the microwave. If you don’t have ghee or clarified butter, use regular butter and a splash of vegetable oil (unsalted butter by preference as it is less likely to burn) but keep an eye on the chicken when browning it. I use a cast-iron casserole and heat it on medium, then lower the heat once I add the chicken as cast-iron retains heat. If you are using a metal dish, which will heat up quickly, brown the chicken over a very gentle heat or the butter will burn.