Chicken & Vegetable Curry Casserole [Dairy free, Grains free, Gluten free, Low Carb, Paleo, Sugar free]
I’m always cooking my curries in a pot, on the stove, which is the manner I’m accustomed to – it provides a quick and easy one pot meal that sustains our family for at least two meals. This is how it has always been, traditionally, using a base curry recipe that has been passed down through the generations, which is an authentic South African curry base which is similar in curry cooking methods used by many.
Sunday meal cooking is always special in our home, and often the boys wake up to its’ aromatics, and follow their noses to the kitchen. This morning was slightly maladjusted in our home, as Head Chef was away on a family emergency, so waking up on a Sunday morning without him left me listless. The knowledge that he’d be home well before lunch time, after leaving his destination before the sun came up, was a comforting thought. 🙂
Sundays also are my weeks’ meal preparation time, and for the most part, I like to get this started early and out of the way, so that I have some uninterrupted Me time. I usually travel to my work destination on a Sunday and the need to ensure that all is done before I leave, is essential.
Today I decided on a slightly altered curry make. An oven casserole version, using the similar technique of cooking a curry, using the initial braise as a base sauce to pour over chicken thighs, carrots and cauliflower. I’m really thrilled that I did, as it provides variety in curry cooking methods, other than stove top pot cooking 🙂 My chicken breast only eating son loved this and had some for breakfast – which is a typical Indian response to freshly cooked curry…or left over curry too. Add a fried egg or two and a scrumptious traditional breakfast, Indian style, is enjoyed 🙂
Cooking an authentic curry, without the addition of coconut milk or yogurt (for those who use dairy) is always my preferred cooking style. The base masala ingredients are important to create the preferred taste. Some like it hot, so extra chilli powder, preferably Kashmiri chilli powder, for added heat and rich hue, makes the grade. A spice shop will provide delectable spice blends in a mixed masala, the years of experience in the mixing of pure powdered masalas renders favourite blends, which extend from mild, to raging hot. I work my curries with a base blend of a mild masala mix, often mixed by myself or, spice shop blend. I a mild curry is preferred, tone down on the chilli powder and rather use a spice store bought mild blend, which favours “softer” palates. The amount of masala used is proportional to the amount of meat protein or vegetables used. For curry cooking beginners, one tablespoon is always a safe option. For aficiando’s, 2-3 tablespoons per 1 kilogram of meat protein works brilliantly. The additional seed spices provide the balance required. Freshly ground garlic and ginger, just the right amount of (pureed) onion and spices deliver a bombastic curry experience of tantalising taste and texture.
So, while this recipe provides for a casserole curry, the method provides for stove top cooking too, in an easy step by step guide below. This recipe favours beef and lamb too.
It is said that while you and I may use the exact same ingredients to cook a curry, the taste will differ…it’s all about the hand that cooks it….as well as the enthusiasm and love that goes into creating a delicious meal!
1kg chicken thighs or mixed chicken portions, trimmed, washed and drained
300g-400g cauliflower florets, washed
1-2 carrots, cut or shredded, washed
2 tblsp ghee or coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, finely sliced or pureed
2 small whole cinnamon sticks
2 cardamom pods
½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1-2 tblsp freshly ground garlic and ginger paste
1 small bay leaf
a few curry leaves (preferably fresh)
2 green chillies, slivered (you may omit if less pungency is preferred)
2 tblsp medium mixed masala OR mixed as below:
2 tsp (Kashmiri medium or hot)chilli powder + ½ tsp tumeric powder + 1 tsp coriander powder + 1 tsp cumin powder + ½ tsp garam masala
Himalayan or Sea salt to taste
2 medium sized ripe tomatoes, pureed
2 tblsp tomato puree (sugar free)
1 cup boiling water
Fresh coriander for garnish
1-2 tsp curry paste
¼ cup fresh coriander and mint, pureed together
- Preheat a conventional oven to 180° celcius. For stove top cooking, follow as indicated below.
- Add the chicken and vegetables to an oven proof casserole dish and set aside.
- On medium heat stove top setting using a non-stick or aluminium pot (medium sized if making an oven casserole or large sized if making a stove top curry), add in the fat of choice and heat.
- Now add in the seeds, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and bay leaf and once they begin to sizzle and become aromatic, add in the onion and mix them well.
- Once the onions have become translucent and turn a golden hue, add in the garlic and ginger paste, green chilli (if using) and the curry leaves and spoon then well to mix.
- Now add the masala mix and combine it well with the onion and seed mix.
- After a minute braise, add in the tomato and tomato paste and mix well. If a stove top curry is preferred, hold on the tomato, instead add in the chicken (which may be marinated in a blend of fresh coriander and mint leaves) and combine it well with the masala mix. Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Then add in the tomato (you may omit the tomato paste), salt and vegetable. Cover and cook. You may add in about half a cup of boiling water if more gravy is required. Generally, the chicken releases liquid when cooking, covered. Cook for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the veggies tender. Switch off the stove, garnish with fresh coriander and serve as desired.
- Reverting to the oven casserole version, after adding the tomato and tomato paste, allow it to cook and you will note that it forms a thick pasty gravy. At this stage, add in the salt and half to 1 cup of boiling water and turn off the stove. The curry sauce is now ready.
- After resting the sauce for about 5 minutes, pour the curry sauce over the chicken and vegetables, ensuring even distribution.
- Carefully place the casserole dish into the preheated oven and allow the curry casserole to bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove carefully from the oven, serve on its’ own with a crisp, fresh salad, or with cauliflower rice, naan bread or roti.