Elizabeth’s chicken curry

chicken curry with Elizabeth

My daughter Elizabeth is a good eater at home but she doesn’t really like school dinners. I think they’re a rite of passage so I make her have them. It may also be because I just can’t be bothered to make sandwiches every morning and, if I’m totally honest, I think I take some vain pleasure in the fact that she talks about how they just don’t compare with mummy’s cooking.

There is one school dinner however that she raves about – chicken curry. And I have to say that this really got under my skin because she would never eat my curries. So in a mindless attempt to compete with Nottinghamshire County Council’s catering department I set about trying to emulate the school dinner curry from her vague description. I knew that it must be very mild so I had to really hold back with the amount of spice I would usually use. I waited with baited breath for Elizabeth’s verdict. She wolfed it down and then declared that my version was even nicer that school’s…but only because it had coriander on top.

As a curry loving adult this recipe is still very nice, especially if you’re in the mood for something mild and creamy. It would be a good dish to cook for the type of people who say they like curry but only eat Kormas.

Elizabeth’s chicken curry

Serve 4

  • 3 large chicken breasts, cut into largish chunks
  • 100ml of lentils, cooked in 400ml of water. Bring to the boil then simmer until soft (about 30 minutes). The lentils will absorb the water so there is no need to drain them. You can do this part well in advance if you like.
  • ½ tin of coconut milk


  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of mild or medium curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • The inside of 4 cardamom pods crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tiny onion, grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste

To serve

  • A good handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Put the chicken in a bowl with all of the ingredients for the marinade. Give it a good mix, cover with cling film and leave for at least two hours I usually do this in the morning ready to cook for dinner.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. Cook over a high heat until the chicken is brown making sure to turn each piece over so that it is nicely brown on both sides. It doesn’t need to cook completely through at this stage.

Add the lentils and coconut milk and simmer for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with a handful of fresh coriander and lots of rice (to cook rice see my post Nice Rice).

Chicken browning in the pan - you want to get a nice golden colour.

Chicken browning in the pan – you want to get a nice golden colour.

A close up of the finished dish.

A close up of the finished dish in an adult’s bowl.


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