I love this curried chicken because it’s so easy to make, you blitz everything in a food processor, marinate and then bake the chicken. It kind of imitates the flavour of a korma without all the effort. Use dried jardaloo (Indian apricots) or the Turkish ones. Turkish apricots come pitted and save you some effort and time but Jardaloo is a more complex and delicious flavour.
Ingredients (serves 5-6)
1) 1 kg chicken cut into 6-7 pieces with skin and bone
2) ½ cup whole unsalted unroasted cashews or almonds
3) 8 fresh ripe apricots 10 pieces or dried jardaloo
4) 1 cup fresh, plain wholemilk yogurt or curd
5) 4 strands of saffron, crushed
6)½ cup chopped white onion
7)2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
8) 1/4 tsp turmeric
9) 2 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
10) 1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
11) ¼ tsp ground green cardamom seeds
12) 1 bay leaf
13) 1 large 2-3 inch piece of cinnamon broken into 2
14) 2 large black cardamom
15) Salt and sugar to season
16) Optional garnish of apricot kernels and or sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
1. If using dried apricots, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes and pit them if they are Indian apricots.
2. Reserve the kernel if you wish to use the nuts inside. This step is optional.
Break the kernels using a pestle or a small hammer and reserve the small nuts inside. Discard all broken shells. If you are using fresh apricots, test taste the nuts. The nut of fresh apricots can sometimes be bitter.
3. Puree all the remaining ingredients from 2-11 to a smooth paste. Season with salt and if the apricots and yoghurt taste sour and a little sugar. The flavour should be tangy and a little bit spicy. If your fresh apricots were sour you may need more sugar. Adjust spiciness by adding more red chilli powder.
4. Pour this mixture over the chicken. Add the whole bay leaf, black cardamom and cinnamon pieces and marinade for 3-4 hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 300 F. Place chicken skin side up in a medium oven proof dish about 12 inches by 8 so the chicken fits snugly. Pour remaining marinade over the chicken.
6. Cover dish with foil. Prick foil in a couple of places with a fork to help release steam and bake for one hour.
7. Raise oven temperature to 375 F. Remove foil and continue to bake until chicken is golden brown and cooked through and the sauce is bubbly and thick. Garnish with the apricot nuts and or toasted cashew pieces.
8. Serve hot with flat breads like naan, roti or parathas.