Chicken Curry with Tomatoes and Lentils

After a bumper crop of tomatoes from the garden I was left with 3 massive bowls to rid myself of. Tomatoes are a wonderful addition to any curry and I knew they would work perfectly centre stage in this one. Their tanginess is refreshing along with the earthy note from the lentils. It’s a real winner – especially the following day when the intensity of flavour is much improved. Now – what to do with the other 2 bowls of tomatoes?

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated)
3 cloves garlic (grated)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
5 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8-10 medium tomatoes (chopped)

800g chicken thigh fillets (cut into small pieces)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
1/2 cup natural yoghurt (whisked)
1/3 cup split red lentils
2 extra tomatoes (seeded and chopped)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat. Fry the onion with the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods for 4-5 minutes until the onion is golden and soft. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 1 minute then add the cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, turmeric, garam masala salt and sugar and stir for about 30 seconds. Tip in the chopped tomato and mix well. Let this come to a simmer and stir for about 5 minutes until the tomato is breaking up. Pour in 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan and let it bubble gently for 25 minutes.

Strain the sauce in a fine sieve, pushing through as much as you can, discard the solids.

Return the pan to the heat and add a little more oil. When hot – add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and let them sizzle until the mustard starts to pop. Add the chicken and stir fry for 4-5 minutes. Pour in the yoghurt and stir well – bring to a simmer then return the tomato sauce to the pan along with the lentils. Let this come to a simmer, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the extra chopped tomatoes then check for seasoning and serve.

Serve with lots of fluffy white basmati rice to soak up the delicious tangy sauce.

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