Spiced spring chicken
- May 2023
- Serves 10-12 (with plenty of leftovers – depending on how hungry everyone is!)
- Hands-on time 1 hour, plus soaking and overnight marinating, simmering time 40 min
This recipe from Jeremy Lee (of Quo Vadis Restaurant and Club in Soho) is inspired by Madhur Jaffrey and is the kind of celebratory dish that looks as joyful as it tastes.
“Mum was born in Chennai (formerly Madras) in India, so she – and we, her children – were utterly charmed when Madhur Jaffrey later arrived on our screens. The accompanying book, ‘An Invitation to Indian Cooking’, has proved the test of time as an absolute classic, and this was the first time that we were felt we were cooking real Indian food in the UK. It inspires me to this day, and indeed this dish. To me, there is nothing more celebratory than the Indian style of serving a fragrant, bright, colourful, and delicious meal on a great platter. This dish delights all the senses.”
Chef proprietor of Quo Vadis Restaurant and Club in Soho, Jeremy’s much-awaited first cookbook, Cooking: Simply and Well for One or Many, was published by 4th Estate in September 2022.
- 13.2g (4.3g saturated)
- 62g (6.5g sugars)
- 6 skinless free-range chicken breasts
- Finely grated zest and juice 2 lemons
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 9 tbsp plain yogurt
- 2 thumb-size pieces fresh ginger
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- Large pinch chilli flakes
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 5 tbsp vegetable oil
For the chutney
- 100g coriander
- 1 green chilli
- Juice 1 lemon
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 150g plain yogurt
For the rice & vegetables
- 500g basmati rice
- 30g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 3 cloves
- 10cm cinnamon stick
- 200g spinach, washed
- Large bunch mint, leaves picked
- 100g coconut cream
- 250-325g broad beans
- 350-400g peas
- 1.5kg jersey royal or new potatoes, washed
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 24 asparagus spears, trimmed only if necessary
- Bunch spring onions, finely sliced
- Large bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped
- Bunch flatleaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
- Begin with the chicken, as it needs to marinate overnight. Cut each breast into around 5 strips, roughly equal in shape and size, then put them in a wide, deep dish and add the lemon zest, juice and salt, stirring to coat. In a mixing bowl, beat the yogurt until smooth and creamy, then grate in the ginger, garlic and onion. Add the cumin, chilli flakes and garam masala, stir to combine, then pour the mixture over the chicken, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, put the rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water, stirring well. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the chutney. Put all the ingredients except the yogurt in a blender and whizz until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until smooth, then stir in the herb mixture. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.
- Spoon away any flotsam rising to the surface of the rice, then drain it well and rinse under cold running water. Drain thoroughly in a sieve and leave for 15 minutes.
- Melt the butter and 1 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Pick the balls from the top of each clove, then crush them using your fingers or the flat of a knife blade. Add the ground clove and the cinnamon stick to the pan, fry for 30 seconds, then add the drained rice. Stir to coat in the fat, then pour in 1 litre cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and gently cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the rice to steam for a further 10-20 minutes (don’t lift the lid).
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining tbsp of oil in a wide frying pan, then add the spinach and cook for a minute or two until wilted. Add the mint, stir, then season with salt and pepper. Tip the mixture into a food processor and whizz into a paste. Return the pan to the heat, add the coconut cream and a splash of water and cook for a few minutes until liquid. Keep warm over a very low heat.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. While you wait, pod the broad beans and peas (if you need to ??). Plunge the podded beans and peas into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute, then lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook for 15 minutes or until tender, then drain with a slotted spoon and set aside separately to the peas and beans. While the potatoes cook, you can double-pod the broad beans by removing their thin skins. Keep the water over a low heat and covered to cook the asparagus just before serving.
- Once cooked, carefully tip the rice into the coconut cream and add the spinach purée and salt. Mix deftly and lightly with a fork until the rice is coloured green. Put a lid on top with a slight opening.
- Heat a griddle pan over a medium-high heat and put a warm plate next to it for the chicken. Oil the pan and, working in batches, lay the strips on it in a single layer. Cook undisturbed for 4 minutes, then turn and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the warm dish and continue thus until all are cooked. Cover with foil to keep warm.
- Finally, bring the pan of water back up to a simmer and add the asparagus. Cook for just a few minutes until tender, then drain.
- To serve, bring forth a large handsome serving dish. Decant the chutney into a pretty serving bowl. Spoon the rice carefully over the dish, then put the asparagus and potatoes around it. Add the strips of chicken, then tumble on the peas, broad beans, spring onions and chopped herbs.
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