Tuesday 19 November 2013

Dhruv’s Perfect Chicken Curry recipe

Tilda have been working with the University of Warwick to create the scientific formula for the perfect curry, carefully balancing the flavours, textures and measures of this British take-away institution. Here it is :

Well, I'm glad that's cleared that up then ! 

Tilda explain : "The key to this formula is the Basmati rice. Inferior Basmati rice contains cheaper, broken grains which release starch and cook quicker, resulting in non-fluffy grains. Tilda’s Pure Basmati rice has been carefully milled and rejects broken grains, resulting in separate and long rice that is the perfect fluffy fit for your curry. In addition, the size of the meal is decided by the fork test, whereby the ideal curry has the ratio of 1:1:1- meat or vegetable; sauce; rice- in order for every forkful to include each of the key ingredients in equal measure, providing a delicious taste and texture combination."

2010 UK Masterchef Winner Dhruv Baker has brought this scientific formula to life in his very own ultimate curry recipe. From the height of the rice to the thickness of the sauce, Dhruv gives vital tips to make your curry sheer perfection, with layer upon layer of flavour, a hint of sweetness and just the right amount of heat.

To watch Dhruv create this perfect dish, please visit www.tilda.com

To watch me create this dish, keep reading !

Dhruv’s Perfect Chicken Curry

Dhruv says : "For me, this is the perfect chicken curry. It has layer upon layer of flavour, bags of depth, a hint of sweetness and just the right amount of chilli heat. The beauty of this dish is that you can add more or less heat, you can tweak the spicing to your palate, you can add more tomato to make more sauce – in short you can make some small changes to make this your perfect curry. Serve with some perfectly cooked Basmati rice and if you really want, some extra side dishes but I honestly don’t think you need them. Enjoy!"

You only need half the paste from the below recipe so freeze one half ready to use when you next fancy this delicious curry. If you have the paste ready then this dish is ready in 20 minutes.

(I was very impressed to see that I had everything I needed in the cupboards !)

Serves 4

75g desiccated coconut
2 x cinnamon stick
2 x star anise
3 whole dried red chillies
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp fennel seeds
100ml of water
3 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
3 x red onions, finely chopped
4 x cloves garlic finely chopped
2 x tsp grated fresh ginger
6 x tbsp fresh curry leaves
8 x tomatoes finely chopped
500g boneless chicken thighs (skin removed)
200ml water or chicken stock
1 x small bunch fresh coriander finenly chopped
1 x green chilli finely chopped (optional if you like it hot!)
A squeeze of lemon

Toast the coconut in a pan over a low heat, stirring until it turns golden brown

Remove the coconut on to a plate and into the same pan add the cinnamon sticks, dried chillies, peppercorns, star anise and fennel seeds. Roast in the pan for 3-4 minutes then add the ground coriander and chilli powder and stir for a minute. Add 100ml of water to form a paste and cook for two minutes

Remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise and whole chillies and keep for later. Add the toasted coconut, cinnamon powder, turmeric and salt to the pan. Add everything to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste.

Heat the oil in the same pan and slowly cook the onions until they are soft – this will take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes then turn up the heat and add the curry leaves and stir for a minute

Add the tomatoes and the spice paste, return the cinnamon stick, star anise and chillies to the pan and cook for five minutes, stirring until you end up with a smooth paste and the oil starts to separate out

Remove half the mixture and freeze or place in an airtight container which will keep in the fridge for a week or so

Add the chicken and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add 200ml chicken stock remove the lid and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through

In the meantime, prepare the basmati rice.

Remove the star anise, cinnamon and chilli, stir through the lemon juice and green chilli (if using) and scatter with the fresh coriander


It has a flavour that is totally unlike any other curry I have ever made using a jar of sauce or even from scratch using curry powder blends, such as garam masala. The fresh ingredients complement each other but remain separate so the flavours are layered and no two mouthfuls taste the same. I did make my eyes come out on stalks when I discovered I'd missed one of the Birds Eye Chillis and crunched it before swallowing it whole though !

 Disclosure : Tilda sent me through a packet of rice, in order to put Dhruv's recipe to the test.

 Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse recipe : Green, eggs and ham(burger) casserole

Kitchen Nomad Globe-Cooking Recipe : Mexico - Chilli Honey Crumble

Applewood Spreadable blogger challenge : Smoky creamy bacon pasta


  1. I have all the spices and things apart from the coconut. It's a good recipe, not too difficult. Thanks.

  2. I made it a couple of days ago, still need to blog. My sauce was very chunky, not sure that's what Dhruv wanted it to look like. I had all the ingredients except the curry leaves, and got the kaffir lime ones instead. It was very fragrant.

    1. I always think chunky is good :) Can't wait to see yours

  3. I'm trying this to challenge myself, but not being such a good foodie I don't have all the ingredients to hand. Once Monkey is feeling better I'm off to source the rest and try this out for myself.

    1. Most of my exotic ingredients came from my Kitchen Nomad boxes. You could adapt the recipe to use what you have though.

  4. Yours looks lovely as well, I had trouble finding curry leaves.


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