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There is an Indian restaurant where I grew up in Cardiff that still, in my opinion, surpasses any Indian restaurant food I’ve had since. The Start of Wales, near Victoria Park, was my first experience of curry that wasn’t made at home and essentially a thin ‘stew’ with curry powder. These were deep, rich sauces, intensely flavoured and vibrant with colour. Though I haven’t been there in many years, the restaurant is still right where it has been sine 1987, still run by the same management and chef for 35 years, so it must be doing something right.
I started to take an interest in cooking Indian food in my mid-twenties. I had a couple of books that I would try recipes from and I would take regular trips to my local Asian supermarket to get the spices and ingredients I needed. Back then I was eating meat, so that featured heavily in my experiments. I honed my skills of a few different dishes before I started creating my own combinations. I was hooked fairly quickly and have been making Indian food ever since.
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This Vegan ‘Chicken’ Rogan Josh is my interpretation of the classic restaurant and takeaway dish. The recipe goes the extra mile, not only in making a curry paste beforehand, but also in toasting the almonds and whole spices to intensify their flavour. I recommend that you take the time to do this also for a far superior sauce. You can make the paste a couple of days before you want to use it, which will also help save time when it comes to making the final meal. It will keep in the fridge for about 4 days. The vegan chicken I used is the Vivera brand of chicken style breast, which you can find here. If you’re not a fan of vegan meat products, then just add a little extra of the vegetables in this dish.
The recipe for the naan bread used in the picture is available here: https://richardchurchuk.com/2021/06/12/how-to-make-restaurant-style-vegan-naan-bread/
Vegan ‘Chicken’ Rogan Josh
For the Spice Paste
- 65 g flaked almonds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 3 tbsp tandoori masala spice blend
- 2 tbsp ground paprika
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 3 whole red chillies, deseeded and sliced leave a few seeds in for heat
- 1 handful fresh coriander
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
For the Curry
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 whole vegan chicken breasts, torn into bitesize pieces or whatever equivalent you are using
- 2 whole red peppers, diced
- 1 red onion, peeled and diced
- 300 g mushrooms, quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 4-5 heaped tbsp vegan yoghurt I used Greek style
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- ½ tube tomato puree
- salt and pepper to taste
- The first thing to do is to toast the almonds and spices. To do this heat a dry frying pan and gently toast the almonds for 2-3 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Now add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns and then toast them for a further minute or two. Remember to keep them moving. Remove them from the pan before the almonds get too brown and set aside to cool.
- Once the almonds and spices have cooled, put them, along with the rest of the spice paste ingredients, in a blender and blend a few times until completely smooth. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.
- Now to make the rest of the curry. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan or wok, then add the vegan chicken breast pieces, or whatever you are using. Cook until they start to brown on all sides, about 3-4 minutes. Put in the onions and peppers and cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring often, until they have softened. Now add the mushrooms and give them a further 5-6 minutes on a medium-high heat. Once the mushrooms have browned and any moisture from them has evaporated you can put in the chopped garlic. Give the dish another minute or two to release the garlic flavour.
- Now you can add the spice paste you made earlier. Stir it in and allow it to fry for about 8-10 minutes. Mix in the vegan yoghurt and continue cooking until the oil starts to separate, about 4 minutes.
- Pour in the canned tomatoes and add the tomato puree. Bring the curry up to a gentle simmer and cook for another 35 minutes or so, until you have a thick, rich sauce. Season with the salt and pepper to taste and serve with rice and homemade naan bread.