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    Martha Collison’s Sri Lankan-inspired chicken curry with coconut sambol

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    Martha Collison’s Sri Lankan-inspired chicken curry with coconut sambol

    • Preparation time: 25 minutes
    • Cooking time: 45 minutes

    Serves: 4


    2 tsp coriander seeds
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    ½ cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
    3 cardamom pods
    1 tsp black peppercorns
    1 star anise
    1-2 tsp hot chilli powder, according to taste
    800g boneless free-range skinless chicken (I like a mix of breast and thighs)
    1 tsp Cook’s Ingredients Tamarind Paste
    1 tsp ground turmeric
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 red onion, roughly chopped
    30g piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
    2 large cloves garlic, finely grated
    4 fresh curry leaves, 1 tbsp dried curry leaves or 1 bay leaf
    1 x 400g can Mutti Peeled Tomatoes

    For the sambol
    ½ small red onion, roughly chopped
    1 medium red chilli, deseeded
    90g fresh coconut, finely grated
    ½ lime, juice


    1. Combine the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns and star anise in a small frying pan and toast over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the chilli powder and toast until the powder is a deep red and the whole spices are golden and aromatic. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

    2. Open the cardamom, remove the seeds and discard the pods. Tip all of the spices into a spice grinder, high-speed blender or pestle and mortar and blitz or bash to a fine powder.

    3. Cut the chicken into chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the tamarind paste, turmeric, 2 tsp salt and the roasted spice blend. Stir well to coat, then set to one side for a few minutes to marinate.

    4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan that has a lid. Once hot, add the chopped onion and fry for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat until starting to soften. Add the grated ginger, garlic and the curry leaves and stir to combine before adding the chicken.

    5. Fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes, then add in the tomatoes and 300ml water (measure this in the tomato can to make the most of all the juices). Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender with no pink meat in the middle of the thickest chicken pieces and the sauce has thickened.

    6. To make the sambol, blitz the onion and chilli in a mini chopper or use a pestle and mortar until they form a paste. Stir in the coconut and lime juice, then serve with the curry.

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