Lisa’s Letters Home: Curry In a Hurry

Lisa’s Letters Home: Curry In a Hurry

One of the most quintessentially British dishes isn’t fish and chips, pie and mash, or toad in the hole – it’s a good ol’ curry. One of our son’s first foods was dal, a thick soup made with lentils and delicate spices. The kids got curry at daycare for the lunch at least every other week, and they still love a takeaway from our local restaurant as a treat.

I think us Westerners tend to shy away from spice with our little ones, thinking that their delicate tums can’t handle the heat. Authentic Indian food isn’t about chillies that blow your head off, though. It’s about balance and flavour, and a heck of a lot of amazing vegetable dishes. It is, in fact, pretty kid-friendly. Indian kids aren’t raised on hot dogs and Tater Tots, you know.

I tend to associate curry with cold weather (which I know is contrary to the climate of India), but I love having it year round. One of my favourites is chicken tikka masala, although most recipes I’ve come across don’t turn out quite how I’d like. I think it’s down to the chicken, which needs a little TLC before it gets chucked in the sauce.

This tandoori chicken recipe from Dan Toombs, AKA “The Curry Guy”, is an easy method of making fantastic chicken:

The yoghurt helps keep the chicken tender and the spicing is wonderfully subtle but still manages to pack in a lot of flavour. It’s glorious on its own and really doesn’t need anything to doll it up, but you could use this as your starting point for any chicken curry. This freezes well too, so you can make this ahead of time for later use with whatever curry sauce you fancy.

Most tandoori chicken dishes you’ll find in a typical Indian restaurant will be bright red. This one won’t be bright red, unless you add food colouring. Yep, that’s what gives it that trademark colour. Don’t worry if it looks a little anaemic when it goes on the grill because it’ll go a lovely golden brown when cooked.

I served this to the kids with a little rice and crispy pappadums (buy then “raw” and just pop them in the microwave for a minute or so), and a some yoghurt with chopped mint on the side.

It’s not as lazy as a takeaway, but the taste is so worth the little effort it requires.

Tandoori Chicken

(Serves 4-6)

12 chicken thighs (on the bone)
Juice of two lemons
1 tbsp salt

For the marinade:
2 cups of plain yoghurt
2 tbsp garlic
1” cube of ginger, peeled
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp salt
2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

For the garnish:

Fresh coriander, chopped

Lemon wedges


Remove the skin from the chicken thighs. Using a sharp knife, make a few cuts into the chicken to allow the marinade to penetrate.

Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken thighs and sprinkle with the salt, and let sit while you make the marinade.

Place all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.

Place the chicken and marinade in a large resealable bag, close securely, and rub the marinade into the chicken. Allow to marinate for 6 hours or up to 48 hours in the fridge – the longer the better.

If you’re cooking this on a barbecue, make sure the heat is fairly high.

To cook under the grill/broiler, preheat the oven at the highest setting.

Remove the chicken from the bag, shaking off any excess marinade. Grill on one side for 10 minutes, and turn over and cook for another 10 minutes. You want a nice crispy bit of charring on the outside, but make sure it’s cooked in the middle. (I use a temperature probe to make life easier.)

Place the chicken on a plate, scatter the coriander on top, and serve with wedges of lemon.

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