In several parts of the Indian subcontinent, the word ‘stew’ has been adopted in to the mainstream vernacular as istew or ishtu. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the istew is served with appam (rice pancakes) or idiyappam (rice noodles or string hoppers). My version is adapted from Camellia Panjabi’s 50 Great Curries of India book.

Malabari chicken istew


800g boneless thigh fillets, cut into bite size pieces

2tbsp vegetable oil

1tbsp ghee

200g onions

5cms piece of ginger

1 teaspoon peppercorns

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

2-3 green chillies

400mls coconut milk



Chicken Rendang

Traditionally the term rendang does not refer to a type of dish. It actually refers to a method of slow cooking; stir-frying or mixing the ingredients continuously on a very slow fire for number of hours until they are devoid of any liquid. It was the judicious use of spices plus the cooking method that made the dish popular during celebrations and festivities. While rendang originated in West Sumatra, Indonesia it has spread throughout South East Asia. You can use meat, duck, chicken and even jackfruit to cook this way. This recipe is for chicken and thankfully my recipe does not cook for hours on end!!

5-6 shallots peeled and chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic chopped

5 centimetre piece of fresh ginger

5 centimetre piece of galangal

7-8 dried red chillies cut into 3-4 centimetre piece, seeds partially removed and soaked in hot water for half an hour

2 stalks of lemon grass (better to get fresh, if frozen thawed) outer sheaths peeled off and just the white inner core

100 grams grated coconut (fresh or thawed if frozen)

165 ml coconut milk

100 ml water

3 Kaffir lime leaves – remove the rib for one of the leaves and finely chop. Set aside for garnish

1 spoon of jaggery or brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

500 grams skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into about 4 centimetre pieces

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Salt to taste


Using a food processor, grind together to a fine paste the shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, red chillies and the lemon grass. Add a couple of tablespoons of water as needed.

In a large wok, roast the grated coconut until golden brown and set aside. This will take ten minutes. If you do it on high, you will burn the coconut so best over moderate heat frying regularly.

Heat the oil in wok and brown the chicken lightly in batches. You only need to oil the first batch as the fat from this is sufficient for the remaining pieces. Set aside.

Put the spice paste in a wok along with coconut milk, turmeric, the two Keffir lime leaves, jaggery or brown sugar and the water. Bring it to a boil and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring intermittently until the liquids have reduced to half the original amount. Now add the chicken and continue cooking uncovered for a further 10 minutes. Add the toasted coconut, stir and allow to cook for a further 3 minutes. Sprinkle the finely chopped Keffir lime leaf and serve with rice or Malaysian roti. Serves 4.

Cooking tips: The flavours develop the next day, so may pay to have it the next day. You can also double the spice paste and freeze one lot to make a different type of rendang later on.


A fiery hot chilli relish originally from Yemen but now popular in Israel. It is eaten as an accompaniment to just about everything. I served it up with roast Maryland chicken. This recipe is courtesy of Greg and Lucy Malouf from their Moorish cook book.

4 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 cups fresh coriander, roots removed

4 – 6 red chillies – I did not remove the seeds but you can if you don’t like super-hot relish

6 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon salt

A splash of water

Crush the cardamom pods, peppercorns and caraway seeds in a mortar and pestle, then sift to remove the husks. I used a tea strainer.

Wash and thoroughly dry the coriander. Put the chillies, coriander, garlic, salt and water in a blender, add the spices and mix well. Tip into a jar and seal with 1 tablespoon olive oil. It will keep for around a week in the refrigerator.

Makes 100 ml


Tray Baked Chicken Maryland with Zhoug

A chicken Maryland is a cut of chicken which contains both the drumstick and thigh. It is a great budget-friendly cut to use for a quick roast chicken or in a one-pot wonder meal.

4 pieces chicken maryland cut legs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Maldon sea salt

Preheat oven to 210oC or 190o C fan bake. Rub the vegetable oil on the legs and sprinkle Maldon sea salt liberally. Place legs on a wire rack over an oven tray. Bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes until done. Serve with couscous and Zhoug. Serves 4.

Schmaltz is the rendered chicken fat which collects in the tray. You can spoon into a small bowl and use it to flavour rice or couscous.


Herb Flavoured Chicken

 750 grams boneless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon prepared tamarind paste

60 ml vegetable oil

1 large onion chopped

1 dried red chilli

1 large stick of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of thick natural yoghurt

Salt to taste

For the spice paste

1 large onion chopped

1 tablespoon oil

80 grams cashew pieces

6 plump cloves of garlic peeled and diced

1 cup of tightly packed leaves and stems of coriander

½ cup of mint leaves

1 thumb ginger, roughly chopped

6-10 green chillies depending on your heat preference and also how hot the chillies are to begin with

Cut the chicken into 5 centimetre dice. To prepare the spice paste, soak the nuts in warm water for 10 -15 minutes. In a fry pan heat a tablespoon of oil and fry the chopped onion. Let it cool. Put all the spice paste ingredients including the fried onion in a blender and whiz to a paste.

Heat oil in a deep sauté pan and add the red chilli along with cinnamon stick. When the flavour is evident, then add the onions. When the onion begins to turn light brown, add the spice paste and fry vigorously. Mind your hands as it can start to sputter! Continue frying and add the yoghurt, tamarind paste, salt and a couple of tablespoons of water. After frying five minutes, add all the chicken pieces. Give it a stir, cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Serve with rice or Indian breads.