Before it was a one-pot wonder, I used to make this as two separate dishes to be served side by side. The garam masala, coconut milk and almonds were part of the chicken side of the equation, while the other spices, dried fruit and mint were used to gussy up some couscous. They came together harmoniously on the plate, so it wasn’t much of a stretch of the imagination to back things up one step and get them together on the stove, instead. The couscous became rice, simply because of the longer cooking time required, and here we are.
While I’ve specified golden sultanas below, you can – and I often do – use any dried fruit clattering around in the pantry. Dried apricots, cranberries, even pears are all wonderful. Their point is to punctuate the gently spiced depths of the dish with an occasional hit of juicy sweetness.
The only other oddity you’ll find below is a rather exact-sounding amount of coconut milk. That’s because it’s the size of an internationally available small – tiny, really – can of coconut milk and it’s the perfect size here. If you absolutely can’t find it, just round up to 180ml (¾ cup) and it’ll be fine.
Otherwise, this is a lovely, relaxed bit of cooking, just a few minutes of easy prep before you park it on the stove and walk away.
For 2, generously.
25g (¼ cup) flaked almonds
500g (1 pound) chicken thigh fillets, skin off
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
50g (¼ cup) golden sultanas (or other dried fruit)
200g (1 cup) brown basmati rice, rinsed
250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
165ml (5.6 fl oz) coconut milk
small bunch mint, chopped
Toast the almonds in a hot, dry pan until golden. Set aside.
Slice each chicken thigh into 3 or 4 large pieces. Pile them into a plastic bag and add the garam masala and a pinch of salt. Shake and massage until the pieces are well covered and set aside.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy based pan. Peel, halve and slice the onion and sauté in the oil, gently, until soft and translucent. Grate in the clove of garlic.
Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and sultanas (or dried fruit of your choosing), cooking for a minute until fragrant.
Stir in the rice, then add the chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring it up to a bubble, then slip in the spice-covered pieces of chicken. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 35–40 minutes until the rice is tender.
Spoon into waiting bowls, scattering with toasted almonds and some chopped mint.