Dinner party: Chicken Curry

Notes from a novice host, with a decent chicken curry and delicious naan!

As a 35 year old who now finally has a home large enough for a dining table, and crucially a supportive partner for assistance, I feel an obligation to host the occasional family dinner party.

This is an imagined obligation, nobody would ever ask it of me, but the older I get the more I do appreciate time with family, especially as parents are getting older, and it’s nice to be able to take the burden of hosting and cooking from my Mum. It feels like its now my time to take a turn.

However, I also sort of hate it. I love cooking for myself, but cooking for other people is incredibly stressful! I have just about got used to cooking for my partner, but for 6 people is whole new ball game that I don’t have much practice at.

So far my go to meal had been a roast chicken dinner as my trouble free to feed 6 people, but for last night – with both sets of our parents over – I wanted to mix it up a bit. It felt like a bit much to make it for a third time in a row.

To satisfy various dietary requirements and preferences I decided curry was the easiest option. I have one good sauce recipe I know I can nail which also has the advantage of tasting better if you make it the night before. Perfect to minimise stress!1

I just had to figure out how to cook enough chicken breast without it going dry and horrible! Then I could get most of the food cooked in advanced, and the only real on the day cooking would be to learn how to make homemade naan.

Reader, it went well! Which is why I’m here to share my success and recommend a few recipes!2

5 Star Curry Recipe

The night before I popped on a podcast (You’re Dead To Me episode on P.T. Barnum) and made the sauce. This is the best curry recipe I’ve found and I’ve been making it for years, it’s originally this Aloo Matar recipe by Pick Up Limes but I often tweak it. I love Sadia at Pick Up Limes, her YouTube channel is so calming and her recipes are always fantastic.

I don’t always add the potatoes (but it is extra delicious with them – do use less salt if no potatoes). I rarely bother with the creamed coconut, and I usually dump in some frozen spinach. I also add some more protein with either chickpeas, prawns or faux meat chicken (we like the This Isn’t Chicken Pieces – but fry them up separately or they make the whole sauce taste funny).

Juicy Chicken Breast

My primary concern was cooking the chicken breast so it wouldn’t be dry and chewy. Ideally you’d use bone in chicken to avoid this issue, but my partner has food anxiety issues and isn’t comfortable yet eating any meat other than chicken breast. 3

Usually I brine chicken when we pan fry or grill, but this time I decided to try a yoghurt marinate because that is what I see almost all curry recipes! I did a test run with coconut yoghurt per this recipe on BBC Good Food, I was sceptical it would work well with dairy free yoghurt because it wouldn’t have the enzymes needed to tenderise… and my instincts were right! I was fine but it wasn’t juicy.

So instead the night before I used the marinade in this recipe with plain natural yoghurt by Frieda Dias at Aromatic Essence. I just used the spice mix for the marinade part for the meat on my chicken breast, and ignored the rest of the recipe. To be honest, I probably didn’t need to bother with that and could have used plain yoghurt for my purposes.

To actually cook it I tried a small batch pan fried in my wok but that was going to take far too long and be too messy, so I switched to the oven. I whacked the oven up to the 230C and spread my chunks of chicken on trays so they were really well spaced out to let the heat right around them. They cooked in about 5 mins (testing with my thermometer), and still looked plump and juicy.

Naan Bread 10/10

This was an entirely new endeavour but I’d seen them being made on Bake Off and it looked pretty quick and simple, plus the supermarket ones are always so dry and not a patch on fresh.

I used the BBC Good Food recipe by Miriam Nice. We have activated yeast in the cupboard we use for pizza dough, so I dumped all the ingredients in the stand mixer which made it quick and easy. I had a bit of trouble with getting the right water to flour ratio (as did many people in the comments) but it all turned out. I made this after lunch to give it plenty of time to proof. The dough already smelled like delicious naan!

Once raised I split it into seven so I had a practice naan, squashed them to shape then left for another 15 mins for a second proof (I’d read on another recipe that I didn’t save this would make them fluffier).

Then it was just a case of dry frying for a couple of mins each side. I did burn my first one (I made it too fat I think!) but after that got the hang of it. I cooked them a little before our guests ETA and kept them warm in foil in a low oven.

Show Time

Then when our parents/guests arrived all I had to do was cook rice while the sauce reheated, then chuck in the precooked chicken to heat through.

The chicken was passably juicy (I do think next time brining might be better, or I need to adjust timing to undercook it in the oven first) and the rest of it turned out great! All parents impressed I made it from scratch!

The naans were a mega success! People couldn’t believe that I made them!

I think for the next time I need to introduce my partner to a vegetarian lasagne which would also be an easy crowd feeder (although vegetarian is a hard sell for my Dad). I make an awesome turkey chilli in the slow cooker but after trying that for a few meals we discovered he doesn’t like kidney beans, so that’s off the menu.

Let me know if you have any other easy dinner party recipes for “fussy” eaters!

  1. Especially when I realised is booked this dinner in for when my period hit! Energy levels and mood could not be relied upon! ↩︎
  2. And also so I have another place I’ve saved these recipes! ↩︎
  3. We have made incredible progress in the last three years with what he can eat now, but it is a process! ↩︎
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