Indian-Spiced Chicken with Mixed Veg is bursting with color and flavor. It’s a one-pan meal to feed a family and satisfy your soul. Recently I have taken to watching Jamie Oliver on YouTube. This very engaging British chef and his charming young family makes cooking accessible and fun. It’s a very welcome change from the seemingly unending bad news we have had this past year.
When I watched Oliver make this dish, which is jam-packed with vibrant fresh veg and relatively inexpensive chicken thighs, I knew that I wanted to make it. In the early days of the pandemic, coming by reliable, fresh vegetables was hit or miss. Thankfully, we seem to be past that now and most produce is fresh and available.
The beauty of Indian-Spiced Chicken with Mixed Veg is that you can change up the vegetables to suit your taste, your budget and availability. No eggplant? Use cauliflower. And because you are mixing the spices and flavors, you are in control of the heat level. By using chicken thighs on the bone and with skin, you are ensured of a tender and flavorful end result. The skin will get lovely and crisp and simply cries out to be eaten.
Because everything is cooked in one pan, all of the beautiful flavors of each element are enhanced by the other components while still retaining their own unique texture and taste. When making this wonderful dish – and you will want to make it – don’t get too bogged down in exact measurements. Use the amounts below as a guide. This isn’t baking.
I like to do a lot of Indian and Mediterranean cooking so I had all of the herbs and spices on hand. Over the past year I have become a big fan of curry leaves. These are very different from curry powder and NOT interchangeable. Since the pandemic, the places where I shop have become much more limited and therefore, I do not have access to fresh curry leaves. However, I found very good quality dried leaves online and if I place them in an airtight jar, they last quite a while. You can also purchase fresh leaves online and keep them in your freezer. Everything else in this recipe should be readily available in your local markets.
This recipe includes a minty yogurt dressing. I was able to make the dressing in minutes. Any additional dressing can be used on salads, roast meats or as a sandwich spread. Our lives may have become a bit bland and colorless this year, but we can spice things up a bit with this vibrant dish.
Yield: 6 servings
1 large onion
800 g potatoes (about 6 medium Yukon Gold or other thin-skinned potato)
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 red pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Thumb-size piece of fresh ginger
½ a bunch of fresh cilantro (coriander (15g))
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 handful of curry leaves
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
6 large chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper for seasoning the chicken
2 fresh red or green chilies
½ a bunch of fresh mint (15g)
Juice of ½ a lemon
1cm piece of ginger
150 g whole-milk yogurt (If you use Greek-style yogurt, the sauce will be thicker. The choice is yours.)
1 fresh green chili (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.
Peel the onion, then cut into 3cm cubes with the potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and pepper.
Put the potatoes in a large pan of salted water over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 8 minutes, then drain in a colander and leave to steam-dry for 3 minutes. (I did this step, but honestly I’m not sure that it really is necessary. The potato pieces are small enough that they should completely cook through in the overall cooking time.)
Tip into a large bowl and mix with the tomato, eggplant, pepper and onion.
Peel and finely slice the garlic. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Pick the cilantro (coriander) leaves and set aside, then chop the stalks.
Heat about 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large oven-safe pan over a medium heat. (I used my mom’s old paella pan which was perfect, but any large roasting pan would work. Since this was the pan I was going to use in the oven, it was one less pan to clean.) Add the garlic, ginger, coriander stalks, mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the turmeric and cook for 30 seconds more. While still hot, add the chicken, skin-side down to the spice mixture.
Then add the veg and potatoes and smush everything around. Using tongs, arrange the chicken on top (skin-side up now) and season everything with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables. (I didn’t do this and it wasn’t called for, but I think the EVOO would help the veg roast better.)
Roast in the bottom of the oven for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked, the skin is crispy and the veggies are well-roasted.
(My oven is really garbage, so it ended up taking about an hour and 20 minutes for mine to get where I wanted it. I also didn’t trust the process and hadn’t added any EVOO over the veg. I was worried that it would be too dry so I added a cup of water to the pan at the beginning of the cooking. In the end, I didn’t need it although the resulting gravy was awfully delicious…. So if you want your vegetables more steamed with a lovely gravy, add the water. If you want the veg more roasted and “gnarly” as Jamie Oliver would say, just drizzle them with a bit of EVOO and forego the water. You really can’t go wrong either way.)
For the dressing, pick the mint leaves into a blender, squeeze in the lemon juice, then peel and add the ginger with the remaining dressing ingredients and a pinch of seasoning. Blitz until smooth.
Top the chicken, potatoes and veg mix with the coriander leaves. Finely slice and scatter on the chilies, if using, then serve with the dressing on the side and a little drizzled on top.