So we’ve just got through our first week of lockdown in Cape Town. Rules are stricter here than in the UK – you are not allowed out for exercise or to walk your dog – only to get food and medical supplies. So we’re adjusting to a very different lifestyle. It’s a peaceful one of contemplation. I’m reading a lot, working my way through a doggie (obviously) jigsaw puzzle, playing Scrabble and have embarked on a new exercise regime walking the rectangular corridors of my apartment block. And of course, I’m cooking.
The supermarkets here in Sea Point are all well stocked and not overcrowded which I’m thankful for. I try not to go out more than twice a week to top up on fresh produce and buy the ingredients for something we’ve developed a craving for and simply can’t do without. Today that was a curry – we both love Indian food and I love cooking with that orchestra of spices.
Of course, not all supermarkets have that wide a range of such speciality ingredients, so I headed off to my local Checkers in trepidation, wondering what I would be able to get my hands on. Inevitably they didn’t stock all my spices. But then my eyes lit on some tasty-looking packets of masala powder. Including something called Eleven in One Masala. Perfect!
This magic powder included everything on my wish list – paprika, turmeric, coriander, cumin, chilli, fenugreek, mustard powder, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper. Suddenly cooking a tasty curry couldn’t be easier.
My Lockdown chicken curry
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 tbsps ghee
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tbsps eleven in one masala
2 dried chills, crumbled
2 chicken breasts, diced
120g tomato puree
200ml vegetable stock
200g tinned tomatoes
Melt the ghee in a pan and add the sliced onion and garlic. Cook slowly on a medium-low heat for 20 to 30 mins until the onion is beautifully soft and golden – adding a little water along the way if the mixture gets too dry. It’s worth taking time over this process as the perfect onions really make the dish.
Add the spice powder, chillis and the chicken. Stir until thoroughly coated and cook for about 10 mins to brown the chicken.
Add the tomato puree, vegetable stock and tinned tomatoes.
Simmer on a medium heat for 30-40 mins until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has taken on a thick, silken texture.
Serve with basmati rice.
And here’s the beautiful spice powder – what a great discovery. Spice Mecca Eleven in One Masala is available from Checkers, South Africa.
Of course you could always make up your own batch and keep it at hand to ensure easy cooking every time.