Chicken in Almond and Coconut Milk

The character of this dish is Indian but you would be most unlikely to find almonds in the dishes of southern India or coconut milk in those of the north. My recipe combines both. It is quick to make, and convenient too, as it can be made ahead and reheated when required. Serve with saffron-flavoured rice or Basmati Rice with Crisped Grains.

Ingredients

  • 75 g (3 oz) desiccated coconut
  • 450 ml (¾ pint) boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 25 g (1 oz) butter
  • 2 onions, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2.5 cm (1 in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped finely
  • 75 g (3 oz) ground almonds
  • 3–5 pinches chilli powder
  • 6 boned and skinned chicken thighs
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped roughly
  • Salt

Method

Put the desiccated coconut in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and leave for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oil and butter in a flameproof casserole over a fairly high heat. Add the chopped onions and fry, stirring occasionally, until richly browned. Add the ground spices and the chopped ginger and garlic. Stir occasionally, then add the ground almonds and stir over the heat for another minute until mushy and brown. Remove the casserole from the heat.

Strain the water from the soaking coconut into the casserole through a sieve. Using your hand squeeze the coconut in the sieve over and over again until all the liquid has been squeezed out of it. Discard the leftover coconut. Stir the coconut liquid into the casserole and season to taste with chilli powder and salt.

Add the skinned pieces of chicken. Bring the mixture to the boil, cover and leave to simmer gently over a very low heat for about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped coriander leaves just before serving.

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