I made this on the fly for dinner the other night, and didn't write it down at the time, but it went something like this:
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 finely chopped onion
- Butter and oil, or ghee
- 4 small boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- 2 handfuls raw shelled pistachios
- 1 handful vanilla-soaked dried apricots (or organic apricots and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or half a bean)
- 2 tablespoons ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 small tin coconut milk
- Chicken stock
- Small tub creme fraiche
- Ground almonds
- 2 hard bananas
- More butter
- A tub of dry crispy fried onions
In a big heavy pan, melt the garlic, ginger and onion in the fat, slowly. Soften but not colour. Add the chicken, nuts, apricots, and spices. Stew gently and stir until the chicken is coated in the spices and cooked on the outside. Add the coconut milk and enough chicken stock to cover. Cover and simmer gently for up to a couple of hours, if you can, but at least half an hour. Take the lid off and mash the apricots into the sauce. Simmer again for at least another half an hour, longer if possible. Top up with water if necessary. When you're getting close to serving time, add the creme fraiche and stir in. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ground almonds on the top and stir in well. This will thicken the sauce, let the first lot swell and do its work before adding more if you want thicker sauce. Watch it as the thicker it gets, the quicker it's likely to catch and scorch. While that's happening, chop the bananas into chunks and fry quickly in butter until golden.
Serve the chicken with the bananas on top, a sprinkling of fried onions, and some plain rice or naan bread to soak up the sauce. We had it with lamb stewed for hours in a low oven with tomatoes and hotter spices, and an aubergine and red pepper madras.
If you can't find the onions in your regular ethnic stores, try the IKEA food shop, or make your own by finely shredding shallots, frying in light hot oil until crisp, and draining well. Dry on paper towels. Or don't bother – a bit of crunch adds a nice texture but it isn't necessary.