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