Shakuti Chicken, Mixed Veg Curry, Nan

Shakuti Chicken

Mixed Veg Curry

Nan, fresh and piping hot

First day of June and winter in the southern hemisphere.  On Mt. Sugarloaf about 10K's northwest of Orange with an altitude of 750 metres above sea level the weather is unusually mild in contrast to the beautiful, crisp, cold and frosty mornings we were having last week.  Following the productive summer months my pantry is again full of preserves, chutneys, pickles, jams and jars and jars of tomatoes.  Summer came late this year but thanks to the over abundance of tomato plants that I put in I still managed to bottle something like 60 bottles to use over winter - minestrone soup, tomato soup, sauces and stews, once you've got used to cooking  them with home grown tomatoes, canned just don't do.

I love summer vegetables and fruits, especially the tomatoes, capsicums, melons and figs.  Oh the figs.  Left to ripen until they are dark and soft and so sweet it's like someone has injected honey into them.  Yum.  But, I must say I'm not disappointed when winter comes around because I love winter veggies even more.  I've planted an abundance of chard, kale, sugar snaps and snow peas, broccoli, broccolini , cauliflower and of course spinach and they are so good grown in our cold climate.  Whenever my mother observed a heavy frost in the winter she would say it is like nectar to the veggies and I've found she is absolutely right.  The same veggies after a couple of frosts are so much sweeter and tastier.

Looking forward to delicious, warming winter dishes.

 Shakuti Chicken

Sometimes called Xacuti or Chacuti, the symphony of flavours created by the fragrant spice mix in this delicious Goan dish of tender chicken will get your tastebuds dancing.  To make it richer and creamier, substitute some of the water with coconut milk or cream.

Serves 5-6

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cook time: Just under an hour                  

Shakuti Spice Paste
1 cup grated coconut, fresh or desiccated
6-8 Kashmiri Chillies
1 tbsp coriander seed
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon
4 cloves
2 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp oil

1.5kg (3 1/3 lbs) chicken, preferably free range, skinned and cut into small pieces
4-5 tbsp ghee or good quality oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, grated or finely sliced
1 thumb sized piece ginger, grated or finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder or to taste
2 tsp salt or taste
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes, or equivalent canned
8 golf ball sized potatoes, peeled or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 cups (1litre/2 pints) hot water (approx)
2 tbsp tamarind puree or lime juice
2-3 tbsp finely chopped coriander stems and leaves

To serve:  Basmati rice, flat bread, pickles, raita.

Heat a little of the ghee or oil in a large, heavy based pan and lightly brown the chicken pieces, in two batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding.  Transfer to a clean plate.

Heat remaining ghee or oil in same pan and fry the onion until lightly browned, about 6 or 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute.  Stir in the turmeric, chilli and salt, cook for a few seconds and add the tomatoes.  Cook until tomatoes are pulpy and add chicken and juices.

Add water and potatoes.  Stir well, bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down to low, cover pan and simmer for about 45 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are very tender.

Meanwhile, dry roast the coconut in a small hot pan over low- medium heat, stirring continuously until golden. This will only take 2 or 3 minutes.  Transfer immediately to a plate lined with kitchen paper and cool.  Repeat with all other ingredients (except for the nutmeg) for the spice paste until mixture is aromatic, about 2 minutes.

Grind the cooled spices with the nutmeg to a fine powder using an electric coffee grinder or pestle and mortar.   Combine with the oil in same pan and fry over medium heat for a further 2-3 minutes or until deeply fragrant. 

Stir the spice paste and tamarind or lime juice into chicken and simmer for a further 5 minutes or so, adding a little more water if sauce is too dry.

Stir in the coriander just before serving.

Mixed Veg Curry 

Serves 4-5 as a main dish, more as a side

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes (approx)

4 tbsp olive oil or ghee
2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) stick cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt or to taste
chilli powder
2 carrots sliced
3 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm (just under 1 inch) chunks
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups (500ml/1 pint) hot water
1 small head cauliflower (about 800g/2lb), cut into large florets
½ tsp garam masala
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 cup frozen peas

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and fry the onion for 3-4 minutes over high heat until starting to brown at the edges.

Add the cinnamon stick, fennel seed, turmeric, salt and turmeric and fry for about 10 seconds.

Add the carrots and potatoes and stir fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and fry for a minute and add water.  Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Stir in cauliflower florets, partly cover pan and simmer for a further 22-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in the garam masala, chillies and peas.  Cook for a further 5 minutes.


Making good nan bread is really easy, particularly if you have a bread maker.  Just put everything into the bread pan and let the bread maker knead for about 5 minutes only – just enough to provide a smooth dough. You can leave the dough to rise in the bread pan with the machine switched off.   
The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.  It will rise, quite quickly at first until it cools down, so check it frequently and punch it down. 

Makes 6 nan
Preparation time: 10 minutes plus about an hour to prove the dough

300ml (11fl. oz) water, approx
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tbsp oil
450g (1lb) white bread flour or plain white flour
1 tsp salt
Extra flour for dusting

Warm the water slightly, pour into a large bowl and add the sugar, yeast and oil.

Add the flour and sprinkle the salt over the flour.  Using your hand, mix and bring the ingredients together, adding more water or more flour until you have a soft but non-sticky dough.

Place the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes until smooth.

Placed the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or greased cling wrap.  Place the bowl in a draught free place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

De-gas the dough by punching it down and knead briefly.  Divide into 6 equal portions and roll into balls. 

Using a little flour for dusting, roll into a thin round or tear shape and cook on a hot tawa or frying pan for about 2 minutes each side.  Brown spots should appear and the nan should puff up.

Alternatively, cook underside on the tawa and place under a very hot grill for about a minute to cook to the top.

Wrap in a clean tea towel to keep warm while cooking the remaining nan.

Brush with melted buutter or extra virgin olive oil and serve.