This Lahore Chicken Curry hails from Pakistan and it's quite a wonderful curry indeed. It's one of the house favourites. The sauce is a triumph of flavour - it's little wonder there are seldom any leftovers.
The leftover Lahore
If, by chance there are leftovers, and I spot a container while rummaging through the freezer, I'll either snap it out at lightning speed or hide it under a packet of frozen peas so that Brendan, my other half doesn't find it.
As curries go, it's actually a really simple dish with not a lot of ingredients. Do not make the assumption, however, that this will not be insanely delicious. It's also quite high on the spice barometer, you can dial it back if you like, but I just love the hit of chilli this one brings.
It packs the most amazing flavours - nutty, earthy and quite impossibly fragrant. The first time I cooked this, I didn't actually hold out much hope as I thought it may be a little bland, so made another house favourite, Lamb Madras Curry as a back-up - but we were so enamoured with the Lahore curry, that the Madras didn't even get eaten.
I love the use of chana daal (typical of a Northern Indian & Pakistani style sauces) - it brings such an overt nuttiness to the sauce while helping to thicken the gravy.
Bread or rice? You decide.
The sauce is quite dry, compared to a Southern Indian sauce, which makes it a perfect candidate for the accompaniment of breads instead of rice - it holds its own and is very 'scoopable' if such a word exists?
I do like Basmati though, so on this occasion I served it with rice. Unfortunately, this time no leftovers so I'm just going to have to make it again soon because I'm already sad that there's not a portion in my freezer to hide from anyone.
How to make my Lahore Chicken Curry
- 600 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cut into chunks)
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves
- 100 g Chana Daal (yellow split peas)
- 2 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
- 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
- 4 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- Add the chana daal to a pan and cover with around 500ml water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until soft. Drain them of half their cooking liquid.
- In the meantime, In a large pan, heat the ghee and fry the onions over a moderate heat with the bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves for 5-7 minutes - until golden and soft.
- Add the chicken pieces, garlic, cinnamon, salt, coriander powder, cayenne and turmeric and fry for a further 5 minutes.
- Add 400-500ml warm water, enough to cover the chicken well. Bring this to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.
- Add the lentils in their remaining cooking liquid and cook, uncovered for another 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Lentils can be a little temperamental and absorb differently so, If it's a little thick, add a touch of water. If it's too thin, let it cook for a little longer. You want a fair amount of sauce, but not too watery. Check seasoning and serve with lots of fluffy basmati rice or a pile of hot roti, chapati or naan.
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