Cookbook challenge Asma Khan’s Indian Kitchen
Editor Keith Kendrick dishes up an aromatic chicken stew
If you’ve ever doubted your ability to cook hearty, wholesome, delicious food, take a leaf out of Asma Khan’s (cook)book. When she moved to the UK from India in 1991, she couldn’t even boil an egg. Today, she’s one of Britain’s most fêted chefs: owner of London’s renowned Darjeeling Express restaurant (staffed by an all-female team) and named as one of the 100 most influential women in British and Irish hospitality by CODE Hospitality. She did it by drawing inspiration from her childhood spent in Kolkata (then Calcutta); learning recipes that had been in her family for generations; and then following her dream to open a food business after two decades working in law. Asma proves you’re never too old to learn something new – and never too old to follow your dreams.
The food she creates is glorious: Kolkata mughlai dishes that are warming, comforting and made for sharing
– and share them she does, in Asma’s Indian Kitchen.
For this challenge, my wife and three children chose murgh rezala, an aromatic chicken stew that Asma describes as ‘mild enough for children to eat’ and
‘a good dish to prepare when cooking for the whole family’. Here’s the recipe, so you can enjoy it as much as we did: Heat 6 tbsp vegetable oil in a frying pan, add whole garam masala (1 large Indian bay leaf, 2 green cardamom pods, 2 cloves and 1 piece cassia bark, 5cm long) and cook for a few seconds, stirring continuously. Add a thinly sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat and cook the onion until soft and translucent (this took about 10 mins). Add whole skinless chicken legs – 5 in our case – and increase the heat. Add 1/2 tbsp garlic paste, 1 tbsp fresh ginger paste and 1 tbsp ground coriander powder. Stir 500g full-fat Greek yogurt, then add it to the pan. Lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for 25 mins. Remove the lid, turn the chicken over and cook for a further 10 mins. Add 3 sliced green chillis and simmer for another
10 mins. Remove from the heat and add the juice of 1 lemon and
2 tbsp granulated sugar. Garnish with a handful of mint leaves.
Keith’s homemade murgh rezala
Asma’s Indian Kitchen (£20, Pavilion) is out 4 October. Photographs © Ming Tangevans