Shades of the British memsahibs reclining in Simla. If you prefer, use a good curry paste which you can buy either hot or medium according to your taste. Though not a true Indian receipt this is surprisingly good and can be eaten either hot or cold.
Melt the butter and gently fry the chicken joints and onion until the joints are a pale golden colour, do not allow to brown. Lay the celery, parsley, thyme and bayleaf in a casserole, place the chicken joints on top and sprinkle over the salt and pepper, crushed garlic, curry powder and cooked onions. Cook in a preheated moderate oven 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 35–40 minutes until the chicken is cooked but not brown. Remove the chicken, put it in a clean casserole and replace in the oven to cook for a further 20 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
Infuse the saffron in 2 tablespoons of water.
To the remaining casserole add the Bechamel sauce and coconut milk, mix to take up all the chicken juices and transfer to a saucepan. Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes – stirring frequently. Strain into another saucepan, add the cream and reheat – you may add a little more coconut milk if the consistency is not quite right. Strain the infused saffron water and add to the sauce with the lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
© 1998 Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright estate. All rights reserved.