Sweet and sour talk

Life & Style Weekend - - TASTE - Visit Vicki at Red Hot Chilli Pep­per, 9/65 Bul­cock St, Caloun­dra. with Vicki Tay­lor

THE taste of tamarind is like sweet and sour. It’s used in In­dian and South-East Asian cook­ing, es­pe­cially Thai food. Think cur­ries, tra­di­tional dishes, chut­neys etc.

What tamarind does other than add a sour note to dishes is bal­ance flavour. For ex­am­ple, when you are mak­ing a Thai curry, it is im­por­tant to get the four main ele­ments right – hot, sweet, salty and sour.

Tamarind and co­conut chicken curry

Serves 6

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS: ◗ 12 bone­less and skin­less chicken thigh fil­lets ◗ Juice, two limes ◗ ½ tsp coarsely ground black pep­per ◗ 1 tsp ground turmeric ◗ 3 tbs veg­etable oil ◗ 2 tbs tamarind pulp

◗ 1 x 400ml co­conut milk ◗ 1 x 160ml can of co­conut cream

◗ ½ cup fresh co­rian­der leaves, chopped ◗ Salt for sea­son­ing

Curry sauce: ◗ 3 tbs veg­etable oil ◗ 2 tsp brown mus­tard seeds ◗ 16 dried curry leaves ◗ 4 onions, finely sliced ◗ 5 gar­lic cloves, crushed ◗ 3 cm square piece gin­ger, grated or finely shred­ded ◗ 2 tsp pa­prika ◗ 1 tbs raw sugar ◗ 2 x 400g cans chopped to­ma­toes ◗ 350ml re­duced salt chicken stock

METHOD: Heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced.

Mar­i­nate chicken for one hour in a large non-me­tal­lic bowl (us­ing gloves) with lime juice, pep­per and turmeric. Mix well.

For the sauce heat 3 ta­ble­spoons of oil in a large fry pan, add mus­tard seeds and fry un­til they start to pop.

Add in onions and cook, cov­ered over a low heat, for 10–15 min­utes un­til very soft, stir­ring of­ten. Don’t burn.

Re­move lid, turn heat up, add the gar­lic and gin­ger and fry for about a minute. Add pa­prika and dried curry leaves, stir and cook for about an­other 30 sec­onds.

Add in the to­ma­toes, re­duced-salt chicken stock and palm sugar. Cook, un­cov­ered, for 15–20 min­utes un­til the sauce has re­duced by about a third. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Heat re­main­ing 3 ta­ble­spoons oil in an­other fry­ing pan and brown chicken in batches un­til they have some colour. You may need a lit­tle ex­tra oil.

Re­move from fry pan and place into an oven-proof casse­role dish and cook in oven for 15–20 min­utes or un­til cooked.

Mean­while bring the curry sauce back to a sim­mer. Stir in the tamarind pulp, co­conut milk and half the co­conut cream.

Sea­son with salt. Taste. Bal­ance by adding more sugar, tamarind or salt as nec­es­sary.

Re­move chicken from oven, pour the sauce over, driz­zle with the re­main­ing co­conut cream and sprin­kle fresh co­rian­der leaves on top. Serve with rice.

PHOTO: ISTOCK

Tamarind is a sour, dark fruit that grows in a pod.

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