Tandoori Chicken Curry with Chard (or Cucumber) Raita

In the days when I shared an allotment with my son and his family, we planted a large raised bed of chard and two of spinach. We loved both plants and what we grew supplied our greedy needs. For the past couple of years, The Barrister and I have attempted an urban plot (An Urban Veg Plot) in my small but sunny, sheltered front garden. Two cut-and-come-again spinach plants and one enormous chard plant have survived and flourished and last night when needs-must in these strange times, both went into this quickly made and memorably good curry. I dusted slices of chicken thigh fillet with tandoori spice mix The B brought back from Dubai but it’s easy enough to buy, or made with approximately equal quantities of cayenne, ground turmeric, cumin, ginger and coriander, with a generous pinch salt and sometimes paprika too. It is hot. The raita is mixed with snowy white chard stalks sliced in half moons then blanched in boiling water. If chard is off radar, use the more usual cucumber. Serve the curry with raita and warm Indian bread or make do with pitta as I did.

Serves 2, generously

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 30 min

4 chicken thigh fillets

1 tbsp tandoori spice mix

50g sachet creamed coconut

200ml boiling water

1 onion

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g tinned chopped tomatoes

100g young spinach

1 lemon

for the raita:

100g chard stalks or cucumber

300g natural yoghurt

few sprigs coriander or mint

Indian bread to serve      Open out the chicken fillets and slice down the width into 4 approximately equal chunky batons. Place on a plate and dust both sides with tandoori mix. Leave while you get on with the rest of the recipe. Dissolve the coconut sachet in 200ml boiling water. Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Heat the oil in a spacious, lidded sauté/frying pan and gently soften the onion, stirring often. Increase the heat slightly and nudge the pieces of chicken between the onion. As white begins to show at the chicken edges, turn the pieces and ‘brown’ the other side. Add the coconut milk, a generous pinch salt and juice from half the lemon. Stir to thoroughly mix as the liquid comes up to boil. Establish a steady simmer and cook, encouraging the chicken under the liquid, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the tomatoes and wash the spinach. To make the raita slice across the chard stalks approx ½ cm thick. Drop into a pan of boiling salted water and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and cool. If using cucumber, peel away the skin, halve lengthways, use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds and slice in half moons. Toss chard or cu with a generous squeeze of lemon. Stir into the yoghurt with chopped coriander or mint. To finish the curry, stir drained tomatoes into the mix then add the spinach, folding as it melts. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes until ready to serve with raita and warmed Indian bread.