Sweet and Spicy Chicken, Spinach and Mango Curry

I am extremely fortunate to be the frequent recipient of food gifts such as samosas and curries, made by one of the ladies in my team when she, her sisters and her mother get together for one of their traditional batch cooking sessions.  Lucky, lucky me!

SaagThe other day she presented me with a huge portion of freshly made saag (spiced spinach).

MangoesThat morning I’d noted that as we had two very ripe mangoes, dinner really ought to include them.  I had no further plans.

When I got home, clutching my saag booty, I discovered Barn had decided he fancied chicken, so had taken some breast fillets out of the freezer.  He had no further plans.Curry with riceAfter a bit of dithering, and having started out with a vague idea of mango chicken with saag on the side, this delicious curry was the meal that eventually evolved.

If you’re not lucky enough to have been gifted saag, and you can’t buy any locally, substitute with 2-3 ‘bricks’ of frozen spinach, defrosted and with water squeezed out.  Use an extra clove of garlic in the main recipe and add the following spices to the cooked onions:

2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ to ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

It won’t be quite the same but you’ll be going in the right direction!

Cucumber dipThanks to the absolute authenticity of the saag, this dish was quite fiery, so at the last minute I threw together a cucumber dip to have on the side.

With no plain yoghurt or fresh mint in the house a proper raita was out of the question; we made do with diced cucumber and soured cream, generously seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I say ‘made do’…it was gorgeous and worked perfectly to allow the sweetness of the mango to come through, just before the spices kicked in.

To serve two very hungry people

2 chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
A large portion of saag (curried spinach)
A couple of dessert spoons of ghee or a good splash of oil
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1-2 courgettes, cut into chunks
1 chicken stockpot
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chunked
Juice and zest of 1 lime
A 2-3cm of fresh ginger root, grated
A couple of red chillies (how much you use depends on the heat of your saag and, of course, personal taste)
A handful of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper
To serve: steamed rice and optional cucumber dip

Ginger, lime and garlic

CorianderPut mango chunks, lime juice and zest, ginger, chillies, coriander, salt and pepper into food processor and blend until smooth.  Set to one side.

Sliced onions

Heat oil or ghee in a heavy based saucepan and cook onions over a low to medium heat, until soft but not brown.GarlicAdd crushed garlic.

If you’re using the spinach/spices substitute for the saag, now is the time to add those extra spices (ground coriander, turmeric and cayenne).

Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.

Jasmine ricePsst!  This is probably about the right time to get your rice into the steamer 🙂

Red bell pepper

CourgettesBack to the pan with the onions…

Turn up the heat a little and chuck in the peppers and courgettes.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken and cook for another few minutes, stirring and turning..

Chicken stockpot

Chicken and veg in mango saucePour mango sauce over chicken and vegetables, add chicken stockpot and simmer, with the lid off, for around 15 minutes or until sauce is becoming thick and sticky.

SaagTurn down heat, add saag, or spinach, stir well to combine, and simmer with lid on for around 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on things to make sure it doesn’t start to catch on the bottom of the pan.

Curry - platedServe with fragrant steamed rice and cooling cucumber dip.

Burp loudly when finished eating (unless in polite company, or you are the polite company, in which case, don’t).