30 March 2008

Daring Bakers: Perfect Party Cake

Everytime I idly leaf through Dorie Greenspan's Baking: from my home to yours, I stop at page 251 and sigh. It's one of those lovely compositions--slices of white cake, sandwiched between garnet layers of rasperry jam and white buttercream frosting, encased in a snowfall of shredded coconut.

I look at it and think "My, that's pretty...I really should make that some day," and then go off to a different recipe.

When I've charged myself with baking a birthday cake, I flip through this marvellous tome and think "My, that's pretty...I really should make that some day," and then go off to a different cake.

So when our fabulous Daring Bakers host, Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts revealed this month challenge as Dorie's Perfect Party Cake, I knew my days of wistfully dreaming of whipping up so lovely a creation would be a memory as now this celebratory crumb will have come from my kitchen...or a version of it.

The Perfect Party Cake is not hard to make as Dorie's wonderful prose easily walks you through the steps: two divided slabs, some seedless jam, a mound of Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, all patted down with coconut flakes. Everything about this cake is delicious--the crumb has nice, light flavour and a soft texture. The frosting is sweet but neutral and plays nicely with the lemon, raspberry and coconut.

But the thing is...I'm not a foofy cake person.

And by this I mean any cake that you need to primp and fuss over. I have an ingrained and genetic aversion to crumbcoats and piping bags, which extends to layer cakes.

Just give me a single, naked slab and a fork and I'm more than happy--you don't even have to give me a fork, but mummy taught me that cake is not finger food. If I'm feeling fancy, a plop of ice cream is perfect accompaniment. If I'm bothered to ice a cake, I prefer something that takes relatively little effort--plop and smoosh, plop and smoosh. Easy peasy, pudding and pie.

So here I am, dared to make a slightly foofy, definitely layered cake. It's more than layered--its two baked slabs, split to make four layers. And here I am, even and level-cake slicing challenged. Really...most of my attempts at such beasts have produces wobbly-cut layers whose serrated tops (or bottoms) resemble the bloop-bloop heart monitor machine display screens. At best they are only cut on a diagonal. I don't even pretend the layers will be the same thickness.

But like a true DBer, I put all the above aside and tackled the cake.

I baked twice for this challenge--and by doing so, broke my personal DB rule: one shot, good or bad. My first attempt was during my migraine weekend, during a small relatively pain-free windo. As soon as I took them out of the oven, I set them on the rack to cool and then the searing aches returned and I slunk off to a dark room. Two days later, the slabs were still there...cool but stale. I looked at them--they didn't rise...at all. I blamed Beelzebub and decided to try again later.

Between attempts I'd read various DB accounts, many complaining that the slabs didn't rise. What? Were they all coming into my kitchen when I wasn't around and using the kitchen squatter? Given I just got my power bill, I can (thankfully) say no. A few people thought their leveners were at fault. That could have been my issue, but I use my BP regularly and haven't had any problems with lift before. I read and re-read the recipe in my book and as far as I can tell, I followed everything to the letter.

This, of course, lead me to break a real DB rule...I decided to not follow the recipe to the letter. I used the same ingredients, in the same quantities, but just a little differently. Plus, I decided to switch pan sizes, using my more standard 20cm (8") tins instead of the 23cm (9") ones called for.

So...what did I do differently?

  • I whipped the egg whites separately from the buttermilk, with a bit of sugar so I had lovely billowy, soft-peaked marshmallowy clouds.
  • Instead of sifting all the baking powder with the flour, I held back about a teaspoon's worth.
  • Just before pouring the buttermilk into the batter, I stirred in the reserved bp, to activate the leavening properties
  • When adding the wet to the dry, my first addition was half the buttermilk the second was the remaning and the third was folding in the egg whites.
  • VERY QUICKLY put the tins into the oven.

Well...the cakes were higher (some of which is attibutable to the volume issue by switching to the smaller tins, but I think my procedural changes helped a bit), but not high enough for me to feel comfortable about bisecting them adequately. I think if I were using a better oven, I would have had better height.

Because I switched it to a two-layer cake, I wound up with a lot more frosting than I needed, so I...umm...made a very thick layer of frosting in between the cakes. Not so thick as it would have replaced a proper third (or fourth) layer, but thicker than I'd normally do.

Of course, after I completed it, we got a note from Dorie suggesting that people use plain flour (just take away two tablespoons of flour from the mix) or a particular brand of flour. Since that note, I noticed the number of triumphant DBers increased. Ah well...it was still a good birthday cake for the exbf.

I do want to try this one again with that flour brand, the ap subsitute and my regular brand. I'm just not sure what do do with all that cake...

To read what the other DBs did with this challenge, take a meander through our blogroll.


Related Post: Redux: DB: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

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29 March 2008

Earth Hour: 29 March 2008, 8pm

Just for one hour, on one day, turn off your non-essential lights and appliances.

For more info, visit these links:

EarthHour.org (home)

Some partnering, participating or supporting Canadian communities:

Canada-based business supporters (Only those who registered)

World Wildlife Federation Canada's Earth Hour page


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26 March 2008

A hunk-a-stout-a cheesy love

Every once in a while something so bizarrely beautiful stops me in my tracks.

While in the SwankyFooderie, just prior to joining the queue that led me down the bread bunny path, I was snooping about for a nice bit of cheese. I'd already settled on some Stilton and Roquefort, but I wanted something that would go with the beef and Guinness stew I planned for St. Patrick's day.

Normally I'd have gone for a nice old cheddar, but this hunk-a-stout-a cheesy love caught my eye. I'd never heard of Guinness Cheddar before, but its terrazzo-like appearance was all I needed to add it to my growing armload of treasures. Besides, what's a little more Guinness to the stew?

Well...if I had remembered to put it in, I'm sure it would have been wonderful...but my sieve-like memory left the lovely hunk of Irish goodness in my drawer. Now, would I forget about Jonathan Rhys Meyers or Bono or Ciarán Hinds? No. Nonononononononono.

But forget it, I did...until I cobbled together tonight's supper--a simple sandwich made with deli-sliced Angus roast beef with sautéed garlicky mushrooms and onions (with a bit of instant beef broth, in lieu of a proper gravy or jus) on a nice soft roll. The only thing that was missing was a bit of cheese...and then I remembered the the hunkahunka.

Because I really, really like Guinness and I really, really like cheese, I was worried that this would be one of those things that was better left in the concept stage...Boy, was I wrong. For me, it works--and nicely--but it won't be everyone's pint of pleasure. It's a crumbly cheese that easily breaks off into barley-laced little hunks of cheddary goodness--which makes it great of sneaking little snacky pieces and crumbling some in a nice beefy stew or soup.

Before it disappears in the name of "just a little snack" I must see what sort of yummy goodness can be had with it...


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23 March 2008

Bread bunny massacre

It was one of those ideas that grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go. It was just so...cute.

That's the only explanation for my bread bunny massacre.

Actually...no. That's not the only explanation: It is my ingrained desire to recreate whatever foodish item that's tickled my fancy, in hopes that I can then have it whenever I want.

Wait...one more reason: I felt the need to put my Fine Arts degree to good use...even if my degree was in Art History, I have years of studio work under my belt (mostly in painting, but some in sculpture).

You see, the other week I was in the SwankyFooderie and they had little flyers pinned to the cash till advertising
Ace Bakery's bread bunnies. While I was queued, balancing containers of Portuguese olives, hunks of Stilton and Roquefort and Guinness Cheddar, packets of breaded portabellos and jalapenos, sushi and a box of Maldon salt (umm...I went in for the salt, that's it), I stared at the photo of the bread bunny.

"Gosh...That is cute--and creative," thought I as the sushi tried to make a break for it. "It can't be that difficult to fold bread...it would be great at Easter."

(Yes, here's where you're allowed to go "No Duh...it is Easter time.")

I thought about the photo...and the cuteness surcharge on what really amounted to a couple of whorls of dough. It became my mental wander of choice for the ensuing days. Let's face it, when I'm super busy, my brain needs a break and meanders to a different puzzle that needs solving.

Well...I couldn't figure it out without actually seeing one. Unfortunately, they were special order breads, only available this weekend. So I broke down and ordered a couple of bunnies, which I picked up on Holy Saturday.

When I got home, I closed my blinds and out came the paring knife.

Mwah-ha-ha...I felt like one of those early anatomists, forced to learn the intricacies of form by scavenging cadavers from public hangings or insane asylums or something. After looking at them, back and front, and then carving out the nearly Möbius strip-like construction, I pretty much had it sorted...after I figured out that each bun was made of two bits of dough.

So Now that I had the form figured out, I needed to recreate it. I chose my favourite hot cross bun recipe, as previously blogged about. Except this time, omitting the fruit and just using the spiced dough--each hot cross bunny would get a raisin eye, though. It was pretty easy, even if Beelzebub gave me black-bottomed bunnies (yes, out of pure stubbornness, I re-made them).

So, for those of you who want to make bunny-shaped bread, here are my step-by-step photos. I didn't give them enough room to rise, so many of them look rather...Quasimodo-like...but the few who were given ample growing room look rather bunny-like...even if in a Picasso-esque way.

After the first rise, divide the dough into as many pieces you wish. For the Delia recipe, I divided it into 12 pieces, and snaked them out. Divide each into two pieces, with one piece roughly twice the length as the other. The longer bit will be the bunny body, the smaller will be the head and ears. Then put them onto a baking sheet and allow them to rise until doubled in size. About 30 minutes before you pop them into the oven, place a current or sultana in the head for its eye:

And the final result...isn' t he cute?


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17 March 2008

Milk Calendar Mondays: One-Pot Tomato Parmesan Rotini

Workasaurus has been wreaking havoc overtime, travelling up and down the 401, visiting Ivonne and me, crashing on our chesterfields and begging rides to and from our offices.

I don't know about our Dear Little Puff of Cream , but whenever the Worky shows up over here, it seems as if its rather presumptuous cousin, Deadlineadactyl also arrives in tow, shrieking out calendaric countdowns, sometimes skipping a date or three. Yeah, they are both favourites right now, and the prime reasons for me neglecting all my bloggy friends.

To say the least, right now bulk cooking and reheating home-made frozen goodies is how I'm keeping myself going...well, that and lots of coffee...lots of Tim Horton coffee (and before the Canadians ask, I've only one ONE coffee out of about 20-30 cups...meh).

Anyway, this weekend I decided to venture into the March Milk Calendar recipe for One-Pot Tomato Parmesan Rotini. Given how...um...not good the February travesty was, I was apprehensive as to whether I could stomach this one.

It's easy and quick (I made up about five-ish servings in about 30 minutes). Yes, I'd like it to be zippier--substitute the parm with asiago, perhaps tinned tomatoes with roasted tomatoes as well, but on the whole, this milk-cooked pasta with chunks of broccoli isn't too bad--better than cafeteria food. I think if I make it again, I'd really want to put in some good chunks of bacon...pretty much everything is improved with bacon.


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14 March 2008

Pi Day: Tomato and gruyère tart

My maths teachers would be proud...and confused.

Let's face it, I was not known for my stellar work with numbers...English, history, science, geography, French--pretty much anything other that maths and phys. ed and the machine-assisted sewing part of Home Ec, I happily claimed a small part of. Anything and everything beyond BEDMAS made my head hurt...a lot.

Now, ironically, one of the things I've developed a reputation for (at least amongst vendors who works with me) is my somewhat quick and usually annoyingly airtight ability to cut through smarmy numbers...yeah, I'm a favourite in some circles...

Maybe there is a mathy in me screaming to get out. I'm sure it has to do with all my baking and cooking...yet another reason why people should bake more chocolate cakes and make more ice cream...

So when Alanna of Kitchen Parade announced a foodish twist to Pi Day (look at my posting date (omitting the year), if you don't get it), I planned to seize this opportunity to continue making peace with my inner mathy...

Ah...the best laid plans of mince and mandolines...Life got busy so I couldn't bake specifically for this event. I pretty much gave up on participating, until I remembered a tart I made last summer I didn't blog about...

In May I blogged about Georgeanne Brennan's sweet memoir A Pig In Provence, with plans to try a few more recipes. One of which was her Tomato Tart.

Her instructions were quite easy--roll out the crust, fill it and bake it--all done with a voice of someone who's very experienced and matter-of-fact in the kitchen. Quantities aren't specific--you just add as much much as makes sense, season to taste and then bake at the required temp until done.

I didn't want to use a wheat-based crust for my version, instead wanting something that was a little different and had a bit of a texture. Then I remembered Nigella's pastry recipe for tomato tarts used cornmeal...well, I didn't have to go much further than that.

I'll be honest and admit to forgetting if I had to fiddle with quantities for my 30cm fluted tin-- Nigella's is for eight 12cm individually-portioned tarts--but somehow I don't think I had to adjust things. I do recall deciding to form the crust as Edna Staebler used to, by pressing the dough directly into the tin, instead of the usual roll, drape and trim.

I do remember the tart. The crust was crisp and the cornmeal's texture was a nice crunchy-crispy contrast to the soft and gooey cheesey-tomatoey filling. It was the right thing, paired with a leafy salad, for a light supper.

Tomato and Gruyère Tart
Inspired by Georgeanne Brennan's A Pig in Provence and Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess

for the Pastry
125g pastry flour
60g cornmeal
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
115g butter
25g shortening
iced water

For the filling
prepared Dijon mustard
sliced tomatoes
grated Gruyère
olive oil

Mix the dry ingredients together, then rub in the fats until the mixture reminds you of coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in enough water so the pastry comes together into a dough. Pat into a disc, wrap in cling and let it sit in the fridge for about half an hour.

When the dough has rested, take it out and press it to about 0.5cm/1/2" thickness into a 30cm x 2.5 cm/12"x1" tart pan. Pop it back into the fridge for another 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Spread a thin layer of mustard on the pastry base. Snug in the tomato slices and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Spread the cheese over top and drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with more thyme, salt and pepper.

Bake until the cheese is golden and the tomatoes have softened--about 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving.


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11 March 2008

It's like being five years old again

Two snowstorms within seven days left us with a lot of snow and not a lot of places to put the tonnes of frozen flakes. The weather forecasters, newsreaders and traffic reporters spent days warning us about how bad things would be...and they were right.

Sunday night I got a call from My Dear Little Mummy, who'd gotten wind of the storm...all the way in India. She tracked the storm via BBC News, and watched the destruction on the Atlantic and Ohio...as she said "It was all white and then I saw a little head peeping out (from behind the snow drifts)." Which she thought was funny...then I told her the snow banks were taller than her...she didn't think that was funny. Really, it was like being in kindergarten, not being able to see over the drifts and banks.

Unfortunately, the air pressure turned migraine inducing...I have little memory of Friday, or most of Sunday for that matter, except for a couple of handfuls of pain pills, blankets and almost total darkness.

Saturday, I was one of the insane people who went out grocery shopping. The MidsizedMildlyAnnoyingMegamart is pretty much across the street from me, but I took my life into my own hands, given the slippy roads, notsogreat visibility and the ice that kept forming on my wiper blades. I was well enough to do some baking, but Beelzebub lived up to his name and turned my poor little blueberry buttermilk muffins into charcoal-stumped cakelettes. They are so sad, I couldn't bare taking pictures...really...bad things should not happen to good blueberries.

Sunday, before the vice grip-like hold on my head rendered me useless, I dug out George (my car)...with the help of my two wonderful neighbours. I also took some pictures, so my parents could appreciate what they skipped out on...

L: The view from my front door...that smear of grey is George. Yes I have a garage, but there's a desk in there which is keeping me from parking in it...

M: My parent's walk...

R: See that splotch of red? That's my Dad's car. Apart from the lumpy snow in front, it's all drift.

L: My parents' front garden...that loopy thing is a wire trellissy thing that theoretically protects the plants from the former neighbours' kids...and vermin...

M: My condo again...see that big snow pile under the tree--it's more than twice the height of a car.

R: My neighour's front garden, seen from the shared driveway.

Sorry, no food pictures or food post. If you're interested in a dessert that uses snow, take a look at
Jenny's post.


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08 March 2008

Cookbook Giveaway: Eat, Shrink and Be Merry

The Cookery Book Fairy paid me a visit this week, leaving a small pile of books in my cubicle. Yes, apparently when I spend too much time at the office, she comes looking for me in the most obvious of places.

You see, she's in the midst of an office move and found several extra copies of Janet and Greta Podleski's Eat, Shrink and Be Merry (the cookbook that accompanies the TV show of the same name). Why did she have extra copies? Her manager bought a whackload to give to staff or to be used as prizes or something, and four remained, taking up valuable real estate. The accompanied message was "You'll know what to do with them."

My...that was ominous...

If you aren't familiar with the sisters, this is their third cookbook, following Crazy Plates and Looney Spoons. They specialise in healthier, lower fat cooking. They also have their own frozen foods and a very colourful line of kitchen utensils.

I've owned a copy of ES&BM for a little while and have cooked from it a few times-- the recipes are easy and don't taste like diet food. Each recipe contains nutritional information and the book itself has many, many tips to healthy eating. It's also filled with puns. Some are good, others aren't worth mentioning (there, you've been warned). It's this combination that made the sisters successful foodish authors. The book and its authors are popular--you know when an AVP stops dead in his tracks to tell you how much he likes the recipes and how often he and his family cook from it, simply because you have four copies on your desk, there's something slightly different about this tome..

So, back to my given task...

Contest time!
Instead of doing a first-come, first-served thing--which never seems fair to those in different timezones--or coming up with an event--which I don't have time to organise,and I know others may not have the time to cook for --I wanted something that fell between the two...

As I mentioned, the book is filled with puns: The Choke's on You (a hot, baked artichoke dip), Melancauli Baby (cauliflower soup), Shroom with Ado (marinated mushroom fajitas), Turk du Soleil (turkey burgers), Britney's Spears (asparagus)...so that's what I'm looking for. An original punny recipe title, with a brief description of the food or drink.

If you would like your name to be entered into a draw for a copy of the book, please email me at cardamomaddict at gmail dot com (you know what goes where) before 23:59 GMT 31 March 2008 with:
  • your name (real or your online pseudonym, your choice)
  • an original punny recipe title with brief description of the food or drink--since you are not sending me a recipe, you don't have to worry about it "working" or even tasting good. All it needs to be is try to be funny...notice it doesn't have to be successfully funny...

Other bits:

  • I'll draw four names at random and email the winners for their snailmail addresses. I'll post the winner's names and their punny entries on my blog shortly thereafter.
  • If you leave your entry as a comment, you still have to email me so I have your email address and can contact you if you win. If I cannot contact you, I cannot send you a book...
  • You can enter as many different titles as you wish, but you can only win one copy of the book. So if you enter two titles, your name is entered twice. At draw time, if your name is pulled after you've already won a copy of the book, that draw will not get you another copy, and I will select another entry.
  • Now, obviously, I can't verify if your title is original as I do not have a copy of each and every recipe known to humankind, and there's the possibility that two people could come up with the same or similar titles, so let's just agree to play nice...
  • This giveaway is open to anyone, regardless of where they live (well, okay, you have to be on Planet Earth with a valid snailmail address). Would love to see entries from far and wide...
Email me with any questions...

In the meanwhile...I pulled my copy from my rickety shelves and kindasorta followed their recipe for Kickin' Chicken. Kindasorta because I didn't use the light peanut sauce and I kept the bone and skin on the thighs...I'd used peanut sauce on chicken and pork before, but hadn't combined it with any tomato-based sauces. Easy, flavourful and adaptable, I'll probably come back to this, but do a whole, jointed chicken..or pork back ribs with this sauce.

Kindasorta Kickin' Chicken
adapted from Eat Shrink and Be Merry
Serves six

12 (approx 1kg) chicken thighs, left in tact
180ml peanut sauce
125ml salsa
20g fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line a baking tray with tin foil (for easy clean up) and lightly oil.

Combine the peanut sauce, salsa and basil, and reserved some sauce for serving. Pour the rest into a bowl and add the chicken. Coat well and remove to the prepared baking tray. Spoon the the chickeny sauce over the meat and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cooked. Serve with reserved sauce.


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03 March 2008

Hatful of butter chicken

Inspiration arrives in various and unexpected forms. But I must admit, I scratched my head at it's latest chariot.

It's no secret, music can fling me to my kitchen, and urge me to come up with something new or different from my norm.
Jann Arden's Cinnamon Buns is such a dish, but in that case, she talked about pastries during the concert.

In no way would or could I call myself a hardcore fan, but every time I hear
The Smiths on the radio, the volume mysteriously increases and immediately transports me to a happy place (yes, I am proudly an Alternative fan). But I have no idea why, this time, How Soon Is Now? sent me head first into butter chicken during one of Morrissey's "I am human and I need to be loved/just like everybody else does" ..but it did.

And no, I'm not going to enter into a discourse about shallower and deeper meanings held by its
lyrics, though I do think those 14 words ring true to most people at one point or another. I just think it's fairly safe to say it has nothing to to with chicken, curry or chicken curry.

So...I've got a hankering for butter chicken (or murgh makhani)...but I don't know what it's "supposed to" taste like, so I really can't go with taste memory (only what I don't want it to taste like). My Dear Little Mummy doesn't cook it. My forays into trying it have left me unsatisfied: a frozen dinner, and a dump and heat sauce. I could tell what the instafood manufacturers were unsuccessfully trying to do when they created cheap, fast and inoffensive foodstuffs, but when the instructions are to heat the meat and the sauce separately before tossing everything together just before serving, you know you've got something that may as well be Chicken McNuggets dumped in Bollywouldn't sauce.

I called my parents (fyi: jackfruits keep falling on Mum's head, which I'm sure will be her excuse for shrinking in height just that much more) and asked Mum about butter chicken. After a not-so-quick conversation, which centred on her intense dislike of many things dairy I think I began to figure things out.

The first is the yoghurt. Several recipes called for it to marinate the meat, but Western plain yoghurt is creamy and just slightly sweet in comparison to my mother's yoghurt, which is just as thick, but a bit more sour. The taste is closer to fresher buttermilk, crossed with old (but not yet expired) sour cream.

Most recipes I've seen use tandoori chicken and then put it into a sauce, or use a doctored garam masala for the chicken. Well...I know if I have tandoori chicken, I'll probably eat it as is and only have scraps left for the butter chicken...which might as well be called "butter scraps." Garam masala is fine if you can't get the individual spices to come up with your own flavouring...but, the best Indian dishes I've had centre around specially-made masala..and let's face it, I'm feeling creative.

I'm not after "perfectly authentic" because, apart from not having a decent reference point, I don't think there is a right way to make butter chicken. I just wanted something that was slightly sweet, on this side of tangy, and flavourfully spicy. I also wanted to make it something my Mum would eat (she balked at the cream I mentioned, so I've given up the decorative pour). I came up with this dish and I think it's a keeper.

Murgh Makahni (Butter Chicken)
Serves 6

2 Tbsp masala, untoasted and ground finely, made from:

  • 2 Tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 Dspn (two teaspoons) fenugreek
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 1 ¾ tsp chili pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves
  • seeds from 1 fat cardamom pod

1kg chicken thighs, skinned and bones removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
250ml sour cream mixed with buttermilk
4Tbsp garlic and ginger paste, divided (see note)
juice of half a lemon
1 globe onion, chopped
unsalted butter and oil, for frying onions
156ml can of tomato paste, mixed with enough water to make one cup
1Tbsp muscavado sugar
a thumb of minced ginger
a handful of chopped coriander leaf

In a zippy bag, mix together the sour cream, half the ground masala, half the ginger and garlic paste, and lemon juice, adding as much salt as you wish. Give it a good squoosh to thoroughly mix the marinade, before adding the chicken. Seal the bag and squoosh again, this time to thoroughly coat the meat. Let marinate for about an hour--but don’t go too much longer otherwise you risk woolly chicken.

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F and bake the chicken for about 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and let the chicken sit in the oven for 10 minutes…which is approximately how long you’ll need to fry the onions. The meat will be partially cooked, which is okay, because you will finish cooking it on the hob.

Over a medium flame, heat the butter and the oil together and fry the onions for about eight or nine minutes, or until the onions are soft and caramelised. Add the remaining garlic and ginger paste and fry for another minute. Tip in the partially cooked meat and any yoghurty liquid that has collected in the pan, followed by the tomato paste and water. Cover and simmer for about five minutes. Stir in the sugar and let blurble away, partially covered until the gravy thickens – about 15 minutes. You aren’t looking for islands of meat in a sea of thickened tomatoey soup but instead chicken that’s swathed in a thick burnished sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.

While it’s thickening, toast the remaining masala in a dry pan until the essential oils release.

When the chicken is ready, take it off the heat and add the toasted spices, coriander leaf and minced ginger.


  • Left over masala can be stored for a few months in an airtight jar.
  • If you cannot grind your own spices for this, then substitute 1½ Tbsp garam masala mixed with ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Garlic and ginger paste: grate and mix together equal parts garlic and ginger. This can be made in quantity and then frozen in an ice cube tray and kept in the fridge for future use.


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