I am a generation removed from a time when cooking a curry involved a fixed recipe, a hard copy of which no one possessed, from which no one deviated, and which followed many hours of labour – from buying the fresh chillis, coriander and cummin seeds and turmeric, to washing, sun-drying, roasting, hand-milling and placing them in fresh, clean jars. All this might sound romantic but I just ain’t got the time for all that palaver!

Here’s my version of the family’s chicken curry, which I’ve pepped up with my favourite Southeast Asian herbs. You may as well, as I do, get your dry spices from the nearest Little India, where their speedy turnover should guarantee a degree of freshness.

  • Ground coriander, 1 tbsp
  • Ground cummin, 1/2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp
  • Fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Onions, 3 medium, chopped
  • Ginger, a few slices, chopped fine
  • Green chilli, 1, chopped
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, sliced
  • Tomatoes, 2, chopped
  • Chicken fillets, 4, cubed
  • Potato, 1, cubed
  1. Saute the onions, ginger, chilli and garlic in about 3 tbsp canola oil till fragrant and translucent
  2. Add the three dry spices. Stir on medium heat till foams and the oil begins to seep through the spice mix – a sign that the dry spices are ‘cooked’
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, saute till softened, adding a bit of water if needed
  4. Throw in the cubes of chicken and potato, add enough water to allow the meat to simmer
  5. Put a lid on it, leave for about 10 minutes on low-to-medium heat

Add these:

  • Thai basil or other basil, 1 handful
  • Lime leaves, 4
  • Galangal, 4 slices
  • Coconut milk, 1/2 cup
  • Brown sugar, 1 tsp
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Taste and adjust the seasoning, allow to simmer another 10 minutes.
  2. Check if meat and potatoes are done. You may want to remove the bits of galangal which I’ve added for flavour and scent but aren’t the tastiest thing to bite into
  3. Serve with rice, chapati or naan bread and steamed veggies 😀