Well it has been a very busy weekend, not least of all because I got a bit over excited at being able to invite people over on Saturday night, and invited the world, or at least 15 of them.
Which of course meant that Saturday was entirely taken up with cooking for everyone, luckily I had my handy sous chef at my side, namely Thea, and so we embarked on a mammoth cook-a-thon on one of the hottest days of the year with the Rayburn chugging away and the water in the pipes singing along at 60°C as a consequence.
In order to feed a large volume of people my first thought is always to find the easiest thing to cook and something that can be served with rice or potatoes as these are the least attention consuming accompaniment so you can concentrate on the main delights.
Therefore we made a chili, a Thai fish curry, a beef casserole and a Chicken Masala.
None of which required supermarket visits as these were all made from larder and freezer staples.
Now before you say anything about how a curry always tastes better with fresh ingredients, I would draw your attention to the statement above, all the recipes were made from items in my pantry, which means dried spices not fresh.
Cheats Chicken Masala
1 large onion
1/2 litre of chicken stock
400g tin tomatoes
vegetable oil for frying
2 courgettes - optional
1 yellow pepper - optional
4 small chicken or turkey breasts (or skinless thighs)
The spice mix is based on a volume comprising one 400g tin of tinned tomatoes and half a litre of chicken stock, if you are making more, then double up the spice volumes, otherwise your curry will be too mild.
In addition because I am a lazy cook and had so much on my plate on Saturday this is my straight to oven dish method.
Take one large oven dish with cover, I use a good old fashioned terracota dish that I found at a car boot for a pound some years ago and has now acquired that faintly yellow tinge of tumeric stain.
Into your dish chuck in the 400g of tinned tomatoes.
Take one large flat bottomed frying pan, add a little vegetable oil and use this pan for all subsequent fryings without rinsing or washing in between, not just because I am lazy but this way you preserve all the flavours you are carefully cultivating in your curry.
Start by frying one large onion cut into quarters, or eight depending on how large you like the pieces of onion in your curry, once the onion is slightly translucent, add a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock to continue cooking, let them simmer until just softening then throw them on top of the tomatoes in the oven dish.
Now for the next bit I used some of my peppers in oil, but you can just use a chopped pepper and some veg oil, fry those off with your chopped courgettes. - You don't have to use courgettes at all but I have a garden full of them and 15 people to feed so I needed to bulk out the curry sauce a bit. Once soft, - gone on, guess what you have to do now, that's right - throw them into the oven proof dish.
Your frying pan should now have a lovely flavoursome oil residue in it, and that should be enough to start frying the chicken.
But before that make up the spice mix as follows:
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried flaked chillies
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon powdered coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
Start frying the chicken and when all the oil in the pan has been absorbed add your curry paste and stir to coat the chicken well.
Leave that to cook for a couple of minutes until the spices have heated through and are releasing all their aromas, then chuck into the oven dish with the rest of the stock.
Cover and cook for as long as possible, I had mine sat in the botton of the Rayburn oven for 6 hours.