The Life Kitchen: Jungle curry of country chicken with fresh fenugreek

Ingredients to serve 4

5 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
5 cloves
2.5cm (1-inch) piece of cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 black cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 bay leaf
4 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 x 1.2-1.5kg (23/4-31/4lb) free-range chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon ginger paste
2 teaspoons salt
11/2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 tomatoes, chopped
120g (1/2 cup) plain yoghurt
2 green chillies, chopped
500ml (2 cups) water
5 tablespoons fresh fenugreek leaves, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, then drained and chopped
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled between your fingers
juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan, add the whole spices and bay leaf and let them splutter. Once the spices change colour, add the onions and garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 6-8 minutes over a high heat, until browned at the edges. Add the ginger paste, salt, chilli powder, chilli flakes, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, over a high heat for 2-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly to ensure that the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Once the oil starts to separate out from the masala round the edges of the pan, add the yoghurt and green chillies, reduce the heat and cook, stirring frequently, till the liquid comes to the boil again. Add the water, bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Stir in the blanched fenugreek leaves, followed by the garam masala, dried fenugreek and lemon juice. Serve with rice or chapattis.

From 'Curry, Classic and Contemporary' by Vivek Singh (Absolute Press, £20)

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