A scene from Outbreak, the virus blockbuster, greeted me. Large sheets of green PVC everywhere. Rooms sealed with thick masking tape with strategic openings to allow entrance and departure.
Our building work had commenced. I was going to live in my own horror production for the next two weeks.
On the plus side I found two HUGE trouts in our freezer. The wonderful project manager brought them from his fly fishing trip. But these had to be safely frozen until I found a friendly fishmonger to clean them for me.
And until the kitchen had been restored to its original splendor. Now it was a particular danger zone with our computer equipment all over the dining table and worktop. Dinner was going to be an exercise in new spatial orientation.
But quick Indian cooking is always alive and kicking. I turned to a box of Khanum goodies I got sent to trial. It had an excellent minced ginger and garlic paste, a saviour of sorts if you get a potent-enough substitute for the real thing. I set to work on Kadai Chicken (pronounced Ker-Hai), a blindingly simple stir fry sauteed chicken.
So simple in fact that I felt guilty and made my own curry powder for it. I normally never recommend using ready blended curry powder. But some messy situations call for alternative action.
PS = Just don’t use chicken breasts. That’s one compromise too far.
Chop the onion and tomatoes into little pieces and cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
In a wok, bring the oil to heat over a high flame. When it starts sizzling, throw in the chopped onion and stir on a high heat for two minutes until it turns soft and golden brown.
In the meantime, powder the whole cumin, coriander and chilli in a small coffee grinder to make your own curry powder. Or just use half tablespoons of ready powders instead.
Now add in the ginger and garlic paste and stir for another minute. Then mix in the spice powders and fry for a minute quickly adding the chopped tomatoes before they start sticking to the bottom of the wok.
Keep stirring for another two minutes until they disintegrate and then stir in the chicken. Let the chicken cook, stirring from time to time for 15 minutes. Then lower the flame, mix in the garam masala and cover for another two minutes to finish off and add salt.
Sprinkle with the fresh coriander and eat with some toasted wholemeal pitta bread.