Traditional Chicken Curry

Delicious, spicy home-made Chicken  Curry

Another Christmas has been and gone.  It is usually a joyous and fun filled occassion where the family can take time off to relax, gather with friends and chill out - if you can call it "chilling" out in the heat of the Australian summer.  This one alas, has been a very sad one.  Our beloved little doggy boy Pedro  - only 10 years old but with a diagnosed heart murmur - developed congestive heart failure on Christmas eve and spent Christmas day in hospital.  He was released the next day after some intensive treatment but began going down hill within days.  Blood tests indicated renal failure and he became so unwell that the vet  pronounced the only kind thing to do was to have him "put to sleep".  When? I asked.  Tommorow morning at the latest, or this evening if that will make it a little easier for you, came his answer.  As any pet lover will testify, this is the most harrowing and painful decision to make and for a day or two I was in denial, putting his symptoms down to the new diuretic that was prescribed for him whilst in hospital.  I certainly couldn't take him in that evening.  I had to be sure. It didn't help when next morning (more than likely due to the anti-emetic injection the day before) he seemed a bit perkier, going out, albeit slowly and falterningly and not as far normal, for his usual morning walk and eating a little breakfast.   Optimistically, I called the vet and asked for more tests, and booked him for another anti-emetic.   However, as the day progressed and I observed him suffering in silence, it became clear that I was being unrealistic in believing his condition was not serious.  When, the following morning, I discovered that one of the reasons he had not been able to eat over the last few days was because of increasing mouth ulcers, I felt totally defeated.

As I held him in my arms during the last few hours I knew that losing him was not going to be easy.  I considered doing things alone that I had always done with him by my side and the dark spectre of loneliness flashed through my thoughts.  But there was no time to think of tomorrow.  I still had to deal with today.  The daunting, heart-breaking process of euthanasing my little ray of sunshine dimmed any contemplation of future pain and  I went about doing what I had to do.  

So when it came, I was not at all prepared.   The avalanche of grief that hit me when I came out of the vet hospital found no resistance.  I was completely and utterly heart-broken.  

It is precisely 3 weeks since that horrible day and I write this blog through eyes still blurred with tears.   The journey I've taken over the last 21 days has been like walking through a  long, dark tunnel burdened with  a heavy weight that I could not shed .   There have been moments when I have plunged to depths so black I  thought I would never find my way out.  However, with the support of my lovely family and friends I am  now over the rawness of it and, though my world doesn't yet seem quite as bright as when my Pedro was in it, I can see some light at the end of that tunnel. I'm lucky.  Consider those living alone, perhaps elderley or infirm with little contact from friends, family or neighbours.  Losing  the  joy, love, loyality and companionship of a beloved pet can be devastating.  

If you have never owned a pet, you will probably not understand, I wouldn't have, but they steal your heart.  And you let them do it gladly because they give back in spades, making you smile a 100 times a day  and  loving you unconditionally, but when they go, as go they must they tear your heart to shreds.   I won't put myself through that again, you say, but the vacuum they leave demands to be filled so then you do it all over again.  Such is the power of the dog.

The Power of the Dog
By:Rudyard Kipling
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--'ve given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Pedro, my little bundle of happiness

Chicken with rice and vegetables was Pedro's favourite meal (along with a nibble of a home-made biscuit if he could get hold of one).  This chicken curry is one of my mine.

Traditional Chicken Curry
This delicious, rustic chicken curry was a regular weekend treat when I was growing up.  Dad generally cooked the meat curries in our household (with mum doing all the chopping and washing) and it was quite a ritual; the grinding of spices, the pounding of garlic, ginger and chillies and the slicing of a mountain of onions was a time consuming business in the days prior to electric food processors and grinders.  The resulting curry was spicy and fragrant with lots of really tasty sauce and chicken so tender it was falling off the bone.

If you don’t wish to buy a whole chicken you can use an equivalent amount in thigh and breast portions, wings and drumsticks but leave the bone in for the best flavour.

Serves 5-6

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Cook time: 2 ½ approx

1 chicken approx 1.8kg (4lbs approx) preferably free range, skinned and chopped into 8 portions plus drumsticks and wings
4 onions, coarsely chopped
6-7 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 large thumb sized piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped
8 tbsp ghee or good quality oil
1½ tsp turmeric
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped or equivalent canned
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli powder or to taste
4 – 5 cups hot water
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp garam masala
2 -3 tbsp chopped coriander

To serve: rice, flat bread such as chappati or nan, vegetable side dish, pickles, raita.

Rinse the chicken portions well and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place onion in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.

Place onion in a large, heavy based pan and add half a cup of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring until dry, about 5 minutes.

Add the oil and stir fry on high heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to brown.  Turn the heat to low and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, stirring now and again until the onion is a golden brown.

Add garlic and ginger, stir fry for a minute or two and add turmeric.  Stir for a few seconds and add tomatoes and salt.  Continue to cook on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until tomatoes are soft and pulpy.

Add chicken pieces and cook them, turning each piece frequently, until all the pieces are sealed.  Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring until everything is well mixed and sizzling.

Stir in the chilli powder and paprika and cook for a further minute or two.

Stir in about half a cup of hot water and cook the chicken on very low heat for about 45 minutes or until it is tender.  Stir regularly and add a splash of water to prevent the chicken catching to the bottom of the pan.

Add 3 – 4 cups of hot water, depending on how thick or thin you want the sauce to be and simmer for about 15 minutes.   

Stir through the green chillies and the garam masala and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Allow the curry to stand for a few minutes and spoon off any excess oil if desired. Stir through the coriander and serve.


John Byrne said...

Going to give this one a try, looks lovely