I don’t know if it was self-fulfilling prophecy at play or a deep premonition, but I held off preparing my entry for the latest Freshly Blogged challenge until I had a look at the latest chopped blogger list. And so it was, the axe had fallen. I’m happy to have made it this far, taking on these challenges as I have; daring to embrace things out of my comfort zone and tackling new techniques. My network of passionate foodies has grown and I am inspired by the finesse and bravado I have seen exhibited in these challenges.

This was my last entry for Freshly Blogged. We had to use Sedgwick’s Old Brown (or apple juice for those of us who don’t cook with alcohol), free range chicken, chorizo sausages (here I substituted a non pork-based spicy sausage), potatoes, garlic, lemon and onion. The brief was to style our dishes in a way that drew inspiration from art.

For this challenge I wanted to make something closer to home; comforting, oven-baked chicken and spicy potato flatbread; the aloo paratha.
I used the spicy sausage meat to stand in for the heat and complexity whole spices and chillies lend to a traditional aloo paratha, and added a ready-made thai red curry paste to my chicken marinade to mimic the rich masalas my family would usually use. The onions braised in apple juice provide a lovely sweet foil to the overall flavour profile of the chicken and this contrast led me to style this dish as a homage to the chiaroscuro technique as used by artists like Rembrandt; a bold interplay between light and dark contrasts, much like the exchange between spicy and sweet.

For the chicken:

  • 1 free range chicken, skinned and cut into portions
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of apple juice
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 large head of garlic, divided
  • 1 large lemon (halved)
  • 3 tablespoons Exotic Food Panang curry paste
  • Generous handful of fresh coriander, chopped

For the aloo meat parathas:

  • 6 potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 2 spicy sausages, contents removed from casings
  • Dash of vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Generous handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 cups wholewheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Water to form dough

For the chicken:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Pour one cup of the apple juice into a pan and reduce to a light syrup, 10 minutes.
Lightly fry the onions in oil. Once softened, add the apple syrup and the rest of the apple juice.
Cook onions until most of the liquid has evaporated and remove two tablespoons and set aside.
Crush half of the cloves from the garlic head and add to the onions.
Peel and reserve the remaining cloves. Add garlic, cook until fragrant and add the curry paste and juice of half a lemon (slice the remaining lemon half into circles and set aside).
Cook for about three more minutes, remove pan from stove and use a stick blender to puree the curry mixture.
Coat chicken pieces with the mixture, arrange in roasting pan and top with lemon slices and garlic cloves. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
When you are ready to serve, fry the reserved onions until brown and use to garnish the chicken.

For the Aloo Meat Parathas
Dry-fry the sausage meat until cooked. Discard excess melted fat and add the meat to the mashed potato, seasoning with salt, pepper and a dash of vinegar. Stir through the coriander and set aside.
Combine flour and oil in a separate bowl and mix until crumby. Add a little water at at time, just enough to form a soft and pliable dough. Set aside for half an hour.
Divide the dough into golf-ball sized rounds and roll out onto a floured board, to form a side-plate sized disc.
Place an ice-cream scoop of filling in the middle of the dough circle and top with another disc of dough.
Press the edges down around the filling with your fingers to seal and then use the rolling pin to gently press out the edges. As you do this, put your palm down on the mound of filling and gently ease it flat. Use the rolling pin to further flatten the filled portion and spread the dough out into a larger round.
Work gently to avoid the filling from rupturing the dough. Repeat with remaining dough to form the rest of the parathas.
Cook each paratha in a hot oiled pan, for a few minutes on each side until evenly browned.
Serve the remaining filling as an accompaniment to the chicken.