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Why curry is the best comfort food

What does comfort food mean to you? Gooey cakes, deep-fried food, smooth broth, melted cheese? We think curry is the ultimate comfort food, especially our Chetinand chicken.

Food that makes you feel content and happy isn’t usually cold, salad based or without texture; it’s something that appeals to both your taste buds and your brain. It can be as simple as hot buttered toast or rice pudding (yes, really), or a complicated arrangement of condiments stuffed into a burger. And it’s also something that often triggers happy memories – comfort food can be any dish that means something to you.

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The olive office regularly polls our favourite comfort foods, and the answers range from gooey cakes to crunchy deep-fried items of dubious nutritional value, glazed doughnuts stuffed with custard, slippery ramen in deep flavoured broths, melting cheese on just about anything, and bracing hits of chilli. We are, however, united in our love of a good curry, and on a particularly cold day this recipe is warming, satisfying and packed full of flavour. 

CHETTINAD CHICKEN

30 minutes + marinating, serves 6, easy

garlic 3 cloves, peeled

ginger 4cm piece, peeled

boneless, skinless chicken thighs 750g, quartered

turmeric 1 tsp

vegetable oil

onions 2, sliced

red chillies 2 thumb-sized, seeded and sliced

tomato purée 1 tbsp

desiccated coconut 3 tbsp, toasted

cinnamon sticks 2

vegetable stock 350ml

spice mix

fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds 1½ tsp of each

dried long red chilli 1

star anise 1

step 1

Toast the spice mix in a small frying pan then grind. Purée the garlic and ginger in a blender with a bit of water. Put the chicken in a bowl with the turmeric and garlic/ginger paste, and grind black pepper over. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes or overnight refrigerated.

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step 2

Heat 3 tbsp oil, and add the onion and red chilli. Season with salt, and fry for 10 minutes until soft. Add the chicken, spices, tomato purée, toasted coconut and cinnamon stick, and fry for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with rice or naan.