Have you ever noticed that sometimes the best creations are those unplanned ones?
The impulsive night out, so last minute that you didn’t even get a chance to blow-dry your hair, turns out to be the most exhilarating evening you’ve had in months.
That weekend away that you took off for on a whim, throwing together a suitcase on Friday morning and checking into the first quaint looking Bed & Breakfast you see. A simple, barely planned road trip devoid of lists and bookings that turns out to be best holiday you’ve had in years.
Or the dish that came together from whatever happened to be floating around in the fridge. What may seem at first like an unpromising set of ingredients shaping itself into a meal that you will write a recipe for and cook time and time again.
That is exactly how this Sour Cream Chicken Curry was born. The evening that I first made it, I stood in the open door of my refrigerator, staring blankly at its mostly vacant shelves, mentally rebelling against the idea of take-away and silently hoping inspiration would come and bite me on the butt.
A bag of frozen chicken stood thawing on my counter-top with a ticket to nowhere. It was then that a mostly-full tub of sour cream winked cheekily at a bunch of fresh dill in the crisper. The old players coriander and chilli made it a double date. Ginger and garlic refused to be left out of the action and wanted in. And so we had a spicy, creamy chicken curry on the table that all but erased a sub-optimal day at work.
Use low-fat sour cream for this- take my word for it, it works way better than full fat. Leave yourself a good hour of cooking time with occasional stirring. It is a combination of the slow cooking and the sour cream sauce that renders the chicken fall-apart-tender. Serve with your favourite Indian bread and leave a piece to mop up the remaining sour cream sauce at the end.
What have you done on a whim that turned out to be fabulous?
Sour Cream Dill Chicken
Makes enough for 2-4
750-800g chicken thigh fillets, fat trimmed off
1 tub (250g) low fat sour cream
1/2 large onion peeled and quartered
2-3 cm ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup coriander
3/4 + 1/4 cup dill
2 hot green chillies, fresh or frozen
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin
2-3 bay leaves
1 cup water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
In a small non-stick pan, toast the spice mix ingredients until a little browned and fragrant. Grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Cut the chicken into largish pieces (about 4-5cm).
In the bowl of the food processor, add the sour cream, onion, ginger, garlic, 3/4 cup dill, coriander, chillies and salt. Blitz until it is a smooth mixture of buttermilk consistency.
In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil. Add the cumin and turn the heat down while it pops. Add the bay leaves and spice mix and cook for about 2 mins.
Add the chicken and fry until the chicken starts to brown a little. Pour in the sour cream mixture and stir through- do not wash the food processor bowl. Add 1 cup water to the bowl of the food processor and blitz again. Pour this water into the curry and stir through. Now you can wash the food processor!
Cover the curry and cook on moderate heat for about 30 min, stirring every 5-10 min. Uncover and cook until the liquid is reduced to coat the chicken pieces. When there is still a little gravy, roughly chop the remaining 1/4 cup dill and throw into the curry. Stir through and reduce a little further.
Serve with naan, chapati or your Indian flat-bread of choice.