Chicken Dopiaza – delicious!

8 Feb

Most Friday nights we go out early doors for a few drinks and a catch up with friends, then home for a home-made curry.  When we were first married I used to hate curry but my husband has loved it since college when he used to visit Abdul’s in Swansea and have a madras with half chips and half rice.  I remember the first curry I made.  A friend gave me the recipe and it was really just vegetable stew with some curry powder in.  Yuk!!!  I think the turning point was when friends from Walsall came for the weekend, armed with a home-made chicken curry made from fresh spices.  Since then I have never looked back!  I always use fresh spices nowadays, unless I make a Chinese Curry.  Did you know you can actually buy Chinese Curry Paste and make a really authentic tasting Chinese Curry!

The curry I made last night was Chicken Dopiaza (Chicken with Onions).  Do means two and piaz means onions in Hindi so the term describes a dish that has used onions in two different ways or has double the ration of onions to meat.  This dish comes from Bengal and is traditionally Muslim.  I think this is the best Chicken Dopiaza I have ever tasted.  Takeaways and those eaten in restaurants do not compare!  It can be a bit fiddley but well worth the effort.  You can make it in advance, in fact it tastes even better if left to mature for a day in the fridge, and I have frozen it successfully as well so great for left overs or if you are only cooking for two and want a ready meal for another time.

First a bit of trivia – today lets look at cinnamon.

Cinnamon has been used a  highly valued spice since before Christ.  There are records of it first being imported into Egypt in 2000 BC, and it is frequently mentioned in the Bible (Hebrew).  The spice is taken from the inner bark of a Cinnamon Tree.  Once dried the bark curls up, producing the more recognised cinnamon sticks you can buy today.  Its flavour is due to an aromatic oil which makes up about 1% of its composition.  Cinnamon’s medicinal benefits range from curing common cold, relieving rheumatism, aiding digestion and helping some menstrual problems.  It is a natural food preservative and helps relieve diarrhoea, possible reasons for including it in cuisine of hot countries where meat quickly deteriorates.

I have tried many recipes for Chicken Dopiaza, but this is the one I love the best.  It comes from a small recipe book titled ’50 great curries of India’, written by Camellia Panjabi (ISBN 1-84509-264-3). It’s a great book and I highly recommend it if you love curry.  I have adapted this to suit our tastes so buy the book for the original recipe.

Chicken Dopiaza                                                              serves 4

  • 1 small roasting chicken cut into 8 pieces or 3 chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
  • 5 medium onions
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp full-fat yogurt, whisked
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon leaves or bay leaves
  • 2.5cm (1in) cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 3/4 tsp peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 whole red chillies
  • 1 tbsp ginger puree
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • pinch sugar
  • salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  1. Cut 2 of the onions in half. Chop 1 coarsely.  Blend the remaining 2 and squeeze to extract the juice, discarding the pulp.
  2. Mix the chilli powder with a little water to form a paste.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and fry the chopped onions.  Remove and reserve, leaving the remaining oil in the pan.
  4. Grind the cardamoms, peppercorns and cloves together
  5. In the pan, fry the garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ground spices and whole chillies.
  6. After 30 seconds add the ginger puree, chilli paste, turmeric and garam masala, stirring continuously.  Add the chicken and tomatoes, followed by the butter, yogurt and sugar.  Mix carefully to coat the chicken in the spice mix and then cook for 10 – 12 minutes, making sure the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add a little water if it looks like it is getting too dry.
  7. Add the onion halves, followed by the onion juice and salt to taste.  Stir for 2 – 3 minutes then transfer to a casserole and bake in the oven, preheated to 150C/325F/gas mark 3 and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Mix in half the fried onions.
  8. Serve, sprinkling the remaining fried onion on top.

I serve this with chutney and pilau rice.

Hope you enjoy it. 

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