What to eat when BA cancels Christmas: My Mum´s whole spice braised chicken.

British Airways you suck. Thank you for cancelling my flight home for Xmas and then “re-instating it”. Thank you for letting me know by SMS 1 hour and 22 minutes before take-off. Do you know or care that there is no way I can get home, pack and get to the airport on time?

There is only one thing that can be done in such circumstances, I´m going to go home and make my Mum´s chicken. It´s the closest I can get to home today.

When she was a young doctor pulling night shifts with an 8 year old old fussy eater at home this is what she would make. You can usually find an odd carrot at the back of your cupboards, and spices keep forever. So the only thing she´d have to pick up on the way home was chicken thighs.

Now that I´m 34 I reduce the sauce and serve it with mash, but when I was a kid the sauce was a golden broth and it was served with cheap white sliced bread. You know, wonder bread? Or as it´s called here “Bimbo” bread? The preservative laden factory loaf that can be squished to the size of a postage stamp? Well the sweetness of the bread complements the broth perfectly, but you could serve this with pretty much any carb -rice, orzo, cous cous.

The quantities of spices I´ve specified are pretty elastic, but there is one golden rule. You must use a thick slice of real butter to make this. No, not margarine, not soja substitute, REAL BUTTER.

Serves 1

Chicken: 2 leg or thigh pieces, bone in skin off

Onion: About a quarter of a small one, or a large shallot

Ginger: About an inch, keep it in the freezer, it grates really well from frozen

Garlic: 3-5 cloves, depending on the size

Cardamom: about 7

Cloves: about 4

Cinammon: an inch

Whole peppercorns: 10

Bay leaf: a small one

Carrot: half

A thick slice of butter, about an ounce

Potato : one (this is optional)

In essence my Mum took the holy trinity of the Bengali garam masala: cardamom, cinnamon and clove and rather than roasting, grinding and frying the spices to concentrate them she uses them whole. Onion, garlic and ginger, the base of any Indian curry, play their role but rather than being fried into a sticky brown mess you cut down on time and effort by simply sweating till translucent.

First, grate your onion (use the smallest hole on your grater)  and gently fry in 2/3 of the  butter. While the onions are sweating  grate your garlic and ginger, you’ll need about equal quantities of both, roughly a tablespoon. Add to the pan.  Allow to fry until translucent, not brown. Meanwhile slice your carrot into thick rings and quarter your potato. Throw the veg into the pan with the spices and fry for another minute or two. Arrange your chicken on top of the veg and season. Add water, coming up to about 1/3 of the chicken, bring to the boil, cover, turn down the heat until just bubbling and simmer until the chicken is done (check after 30 minutes).

If you are using them, your potatoes may need a little longer, in which case fish out the carrots and chicken and keep warm while you give the potatoes a hard boil in the remaining liquid. I like to turn the potatoes into mash with a half cup of milk and a knob of butter.

One Response to “What to eat when BA cancels Christmas: My Mum´s whole spice braised chicken.”
  1. Sorry about your flight. I’m sure it is little consolation, but this looks excellent.

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