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Chicken curry and spiced rice, by Paul Heathcote

07 July 2009
Chicken curry and spiced rice, by Paul Heathcote

Top chef Paul Heathcote devises a recipe that would be suitable for the school dining hall for Caterer's Education Week.


INGREDIENTS (Makes four)

  • 1½kg free-range chicken
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into half
  • 6cm root ginger, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 3tsp garam masala
  • Vegetable oil
  • 6 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 2 dried red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 3 sprigs curry leaves, stems removed
  • 6 thin green chillies
  • 60g block tamarind, soaked in hot water and prepared
  • 2tbs dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 x 400ml cans coconut
  • 200g dwarf beans, blanched for two minutes in boiling water, and then drained
  • Large mint or coriander leaves, to serve


Cut the chicken into small pieces, breasts in three, drumsticks and thighs in half.

Next, put all the chicken bones and carcass into a pan along with the onion and sliced ginger. Cover with one litre of water and simmer for a good hour, or until reduced by half. Sieve the stock into a jug and discard all the carcass and vegetables.

Season the chicken pieces and sprinkle with half of the garam masala. Heat 3tbs of oil in a wok or casserole pan, and then fry the chicken in three batches until golden. Drain and reserve.

To make the sauce

Fry the shallots, garlic, coriander, dried chillies and curry leaves in the same oil until the mixture takes on a golden colour, stir in the green chillies and tamarind water (or lemon juice).

Add the sugar, then the coconut milk and about 500ml of the stock followed by the chicken pieces. Cover, bring to a bubble, then put in a 160oC/Gas Mark 3 oven for one-and-a-half hours, adding the remaining garam masala 15 minutes before the end.

Stir in the beans to warm through, then ladle into bowls and sprinkle with herb leaves before serving.

For the spiced rice

  • 2tbs vegetable oil
  • 12 cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 500g basmati rice, washed and drained


Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan, then add the spices and bay leaves and heat for a few seconds or until they smell fragrant and begin to make popping noises.

Next, stir in the rice, then add about 700ml of water (or enough to cover the rice by 2cm) and a good pinch of salt.

Bring to the boil and bubble for a minute or so, then cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn down the heat to very low and cook for a further seven to eight minutes. Turn off the heat and leave with lid on for a further 10 minutes.

Fluff through when ready to serve.

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