Sunday, 15 March 2020

Nana's 6 onion Chicken Pathia

My Nana was born in Mangalore in India, got married young and moved to Kenya, leaving everything that she knew behind.  She had 6 children and a husband who's ambition was to get his family to the "Promised Lands" of the United Kingdom.  She has always been a brilliant cook but with over 60 years away from India her recipes have evolved and now at the ripe age of 85 there are just a few tried and tested recipes that remain.  I spent a day cooking one of her favourites with her a few weeks back and after a few attempts to remake it this is her  extra special Chicken Curry.  It follows no recipe that I know, but, tastes like the most incredible chicken Pathia you have ever eaten.  Like that classic hot, sweet, and sour you get from a British Indian restaurant's Chicken Pathia but homemade with a fraction of the sugar and oil used.


The bulk
6 Onions
2 Peppers
1-5 Green Chillies (Depending how hot you like it - this dish is meant to pack a punch)
6 Chicken thighs (I prefer on the bone but fillets work just as well)
5 Garlic Cloves
1 inch piece of Ginger
1/4 cup of cooking oil (maybe more - I never actually measured)

The Sauce
2 tbs Tomato Puree
1 tbs Tamarind Paste
2 tbs Brown Sugar (or Jaggery if you have it!)
Chicken stock cube
Juice of one lime

The Spices
3 tsp Curry Powder (I use Madras hot curry powder)
1-2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder (Kashimiri is for colour and flavour. Not heat)
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper
Salt to taste.


1. Find someone to peel and dice the 6 onions for you.  Blend one of them with the ginger and garlic and set aside.  Dice the peppers, chunky chop the chillies - big enough for somebody to pick them out if they choose to.

2. Mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside.

3.  In your biggest pot, add the oil and fry the cinnamon stick for a minute.  Add the chopped onions. It will take time to fry this many onions properly but make sure that the onions are caramelising.  Add half a teaspoon of salt to help.

4. Add all the spices.  At this point you might need to add more oil if the pan gets dry.  Spices need to fry in oil so don't be afraid of it.  You are never going to add as much as your local takeaway does.  Fry for 5 minutes.

5. Add the diced peppers and fry.  Add the blended onion/ginger/garlic mix and fry thoroughly.  The main sweetness of this dish comes from this fried onion.  Steamed onion does not taste the same.  You should have a nice shine to the gravy.

6. Add the sauce mix and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the raw chicken and cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes.  Keep covered for the first 15 minutes.  If the sauce is looking thin then remove the lid to allow it to thicken.  If it is drying out just add water.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Real Goan Pork Vindaloo

Like most curries in a British Indian Restaurant, the Vindaloo has lost pretty much all resemblance to it's original, traditional form and has become the generic "extra hot" dish with it's 3 chilly symbols.  It is correct that a Vindaloo is jam packed with chillies, but somewhere lost in translation was the fact that the chillies specifically used in a Vindaloo are the much milder kashmiri chilly that packs little heat but a ton of flavour and colour.  The overriding taste of a good Vindaloo should most definitely be chilly but that does not equate to overbearing heat.  After chilly, the second most important flavour must be vinegar; this brings the spices together providing a fragrant that instantly takes me back to Goa.  When I say that this dish tastes better the next day, I really mean that this dish should only ever be eaten the day after it has been prepared.  Allowing time for that vinegar to slightly pickle the meat is key to this Vindaloo and you will see for yourself that the difference in flavour is staggering!  If you don't like pork or fatty meat; move on, this dish is not for you.  There is no real substitute for what the belly fat brings to the dish.  If you really want you could substitute half the pork belly for pork shoulder.  I have used chicken thigh before and it is still tasty, just not a spot on how good the pork version is.  I have Goan roots and still have family living in Goa which makes me very proud to share with you my Goan Vindaloo.

Ingredients:  (Serves 5-6)

1 Kg of pork belly (rind removed and cut in chunky cubes)
15 whole dried Kashmiri Chillies
3 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns
7 black cloves
3 black cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp tumeric
80ml apple cider vinegar
3 onions
6 cloves of garlic
1 inch of ginger
4 tsp tamarind pulp (tamarind pastes come in different concentrations so be careful with this - add it to taste at the end if you need to)
2 tsp brown sugar
Salt to taste


Toast the chillies, cumin seeds, peppercorns and cloves in a dry pan until fragrant and then grind into a coarse powder either using a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar.

Blend the garlic and ginger into a paste.

Combine half the vinegar with half the ginger/garlic paste and half the freshly ground spices.

Marinade the pork with this mix (overnight is best but a couple of hours will do).

Dice 2 onions and blend the other 1.

In a hot pan add enough oil to cover the base and put in the cinnamon stick and the black cardamom.  Fry until fragrant.

Add the diced onion and fry until soft.  Then add the remaining freshly ground spices.  Add more oil if the spices have made the pan dry - a fair amount of oil is needed to properly fry all ingredients.

Add remaining ginger/garlic paste and blended onion.  Fry thoroughly until oil bubbles through holes in the sauce.  Stir often to stop it from burning.

Add sugar, tamarind pulp and remaining vinegar.

In a separate pan brown the marinaded pork and then transfer into main curry pan.

Simmer for 1 hour allowing the curry to thicken.  The picture on the left was taken as soon as the meat was added.  A slow simmer with the lid off brought it to the consistency shown in the picture at the top of this post.  I prefer using my cast iron pot and putting it in the oven.

Once the curry has cooled down put it in the fridge ready to enjoy the next day.  Trust me, it is worth the wait!