Kai with soul

19:07, Nov 12 2012
tdn curry stand
Tandoori chicken curry

Another two classes of senior students have passed through the doors of our department this year and we have farewelled them with good wishes for their future, last-minute words of wisdom, hugs, handshakes and, of course, delicious kai.

They have assured us (teachers) that they will take their nutrition knowledge and cooking skills with them. Some have jokingly reassured us that they will always eat their vegetables as well.

So it is with fondness and sadness that we bid them farewell before they sit their external NCEA examinations, but it does feel satisfying knowing that they leave with the knowledge and understanding of basic nutrition and the ability to make healthy food choices on top of a repertoire of well-balanced, tasty foods which they can capably prepare in their future lives.

Their final practical was tandoori chicken curry served with rice and roti.

This Indian curry was full of flavour and quick to make.

We used the convenience of a prepared curry paste and there was a good selection to choose from in the supermarket.


Using processed tandoori paste from a jar or sachet reduces cooking preparation time and you can easily add a little more if you like a stronger curry flavour. You could make your own tandoori flavour by adding a mix of ginger, coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Check out the recipes on the internet if you wish.

We added a few vegetables into the tandoori chicken curry, along with fresh coriander and a few spoonfuls of natural yoghurt.

If you are a fan of the last two ingredients, feel free to add more as both enrich the flavour and texture of the curry.

Serve the meal with a refreshing tomato and avocado salad to produce a nutritious, well- balanced meal.

We were lucky to have one of our Indian students, Nehaa Shah, show us how to make roti bread. Roti is a flat bread and a staple food item in India. It has also become popular in our country.

Nehaa made her family version of roti with flour and boiling water. This produces a soft, spongy, warm dough which is easy to work with and roll into flat, thin circles.

The rounds are cooked in a preheated heavy-based frying pan or on a griddle. A little ghee (clarified butter) is brushed over the pan before frying each roti. Ghee has a higher cooking temperature than butter. If you haven't got any, a little oil could be used instead. This may seem incorrect to traditional roti makers, but ghee is not a common food item in many households.

The roti cook quickly and take a few minutes per side to slightly rise and colour.

A few brown patches will appear, but the texture will remain soft. Serve the roti with the tandoori chicken curry and break off a piece to mop up the curry sauce. They are definitely a great food to make at home and one the family will really enjoy making. Nehaa was certainly an expert and could make the dough in 10 minutes.

So, turn off the TV and get the teenagers into the kitchen making roti bread and/or tandoori chicken curry. They will have fun and it will be positive family time, producing tasty, edible results.

They, too, can become experts, just like Nehaa.


Makes 11

2 cups flour

1-11/2 cups boiling water

1 tsp oil

Ghee or oil for coating pan or griddle

Measure the flour into a large bowl.

Slowly pour in the boiling water and mix to form a soft dough, using a bread and butter knife. Use your hands to knead the dough in the final stage. The dough will be pliable and warm, similar in consistency to that of play dough.

Return the dough to the bowl and pour over 1 tsp of oil. Coat the dough with the oil, using your hands. Remove the dough from the bowl, mould it into a sausage shape, and place on a floured bench.

Cut the dough into 11 even-sized pieces and roll each into a ball. Set aside.

Lightly flour the bench again, and also a rolling pin. Flatten each ball in the palms of your hands, then place on the bench and roll out into a thin, medium-sized circle. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Sprinkle more flour over the bench and rolling pin when required.

Preheat a heavy-based frying pan or griddle until it is hot. Brush lightly with the ghee or oil. Cook each roti for a few minutes on each side. The roti will rise slightly and develop brown patches on both sides. Repeat this process until the rotis are all cooked.

Delicious served warm or cold. Rotis are a traditional accompaniment for curries and will last well for a number of days. They can also be used as wraps for school lunches.

Take care when pouring the boiling water.

Tandoori Chicken Curry

(Serves 4)

600g chicken breast or thigh (skinless and boneless) cubed into small pieces

1 Tbsp oil

1 large onion - finely sliced

3-4 Tbsp Tandoori curry paste

1 large carrot - peeled and sliced

1 large potato - peeled and diced

3/4 cup frozen peas

200 ml (1/2 can) of coconut milk

1 small bunch of fresh coriander - pick the leaves off and finely chop the stalks

1 tomato - diced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 Tbsp natural yoghurt

Prepare all the chicken, onion, carrot, potatoes, coriander and tomato before you begin to cook.

Preheat the oil in a large casserole-type pan or medium-size frying pan with lid. Add the cubed chicken and cook until lightly browned. Use a wooden spoon.

Push the chicken to the side of the pan and add the sliced onion and coriander stalks. Stir until the onion is evenly cooked for 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the curry paste to coat the chicken and onion and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the carrots, potatoes and coconut milk. Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.

Add the tomato, peas, coriander leaves and simmer for a further 10 minutes without the lid. If the curry is too watery, let it simmer until the consistency has thickened or if the mixture becomes too dry, add a little water to thin the sauce.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the yoghurt.

Serve the curry with cooked rice of your choice. Garnish with extra coriander leaves and an additional spoonful of natural or unsweetened yoghurt.

Serve this meal with an accompaniment of roti and tomato and avocado salad.

Tomato and Avocado Salad

2 tomatoes - rinsed

1 ripe avocado

handful of fresh coriander - rinsed

the juice of 1 lemon

1/4 tsp lemon pepper

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and place into a medium-sized serving bowl.

Cut the avocado in half, scoop the flesh out of both halves and remove the stone.

Cut the flesh into small pieces and place in the bowl.

Roughly chop the coriander leaves and stalks and add to the bowl, along with the juice of the lemon and the lemon pepper.

Toss gently to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Taranaki Daily News