"I left Lincolnshire at the age of 18 to go to university in London. Secretly homesick, I would stop in Indian-owned newstands on the way back from class, lingering over the magazines and quietly listening to the owners speaking in Gujarati, just for comfort.
When it came to food, I was at the mercy of the dorm chef, a Jamaican with an adventurous streak who would create delights such as corn and strawberry salad, indiscriminately seasoning everything with pepper. With every bite, I'd be thinking about home and my ultimate comfort food, my mum's curry chicken."
Excerpted from Made in India (Flatiron 2015). —Food52
ghee or unsalted butter
1 3/4-inch cinnamon sticks
large onions, finely chopped
2 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
cloves garlic, crushed
fresh green chiles (or 1 teaspoon chili powder)
plus 2 tablespoons strained tomatoes (such as Pomì)
1 1/2 teaspoons
whole-milk yogurt (plus extra for serving)
Put the ghee and oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat. When it's hot, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Let them infuse in the oil for a minute, and then add the onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, and green chiles into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and bash to a coarse paste.
Add the paste to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes, then pour int the strained tomatoes and stir. Cook the strained tomatoes for a few minutes, until the mixture resembles a thick paste, then add the tomato paste, ground cumin, turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
Whisk the yogurt and add it slowly to the curry. Cook it through until it starts to bubble, then add the chicken. Pop the lid on the pan and continue to cook on a gentle heat for around 30 minutes. Add the ground almonds and the garam masala and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve it with a tower of chapatis, hot fluffy naan, or rice, and offer yogurt at the table.