1 chicken
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
a couple of sprigs of curry leaves (plus a few extra for garnishing)
5cm piece ginger, finely grated
5cm piece turmeric, finely grated (or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
3 red capsicums, cut into large wedges
½ cup red lentils
500ml chicken stock (plus extra if required)
¼ cup tamarind purée or paste
3 tablespoons date syrup (or use brown sugar instead)
yoghurt, to serve

Yes, you could do this with chicken pieces, but usually I prefer to buy a whole bird, mostly because I prefer the skin on the chicken, but also so I can make a stock with the backbone. I’ve kept this mild flavoured but feel free to add chilli to the mix or to serve alongside at the end. Ring seasonal changes by changing the vegetables; in place of the capsicums try adding silverbeet or spinach near the end of cooking, or kūmara or pumpkin (you might need to add extra chicken stock). This curry can be frozen.


1.Cut the chicken into 8 pieces (drum, thigh, wings minus the tip, and the breasts whole, saving the backbone and wing tip for stock). Leaving the breast on the cartilage in a large piece means that it should cook in the same time as the rest of the meat.
2.In a large, wide pan, heat the ghee and brown the chicken pieces in batches until golden. Set aside.
3.If needed, add a little extra oil to the pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds and curry leaves and fry until the seeds begin to pop.
4.Add the ginger, turmeric and garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant.
5.Add the sliced onion and capsicums to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes until starting to soften.
6.Add the chicken back to the pan along with the red lentils and chicken stock, season generously, bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.
7.Add a little extra stock if you feel the lentils are soaking up too much liquid.
8.While the chicken is cooking, put the tamarind paste in a saucepan with the date syrup and ¼ cup water.
9.Bring to the boil and simmer gently for a couple of minutes.
10.Set aside to cool.
11.Heat a little oil in a frying pan, add the extra curry leaves and cook until crisp.
12.Pour the leaves and oil over the chicken.
13.Serve the chicken with basmati rice (I fried black mustard seeds, curry leaves and a few bashed green cardamom pods in oil, added the rice and then cooked it absorption style).
14.Drizzle over some yoghurt and tamarind syrup to taste.

Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant / Photography Aaron McLean /Styling Jessica Hemmings

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