Chicken and caramelised onions

Cooking from the Heart
Mark Roper

This recipe is an adaptation of one of my mother’s recipes — the optional ingredients are ones I’ve introduced. If you can’t get tamarind liquid, use cider vinegar instead. You can also use 500 g chicken pieces instead of a whole jointed chicken.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6-8 very large onions, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoons paprika
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
3-4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons tamarind liquid
1 tablespoon sugar


Quantity Ingredient
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
pinch ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 coriander stalks, cleaned and chopped
1 fresh large green chilli, split open


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat, then sauté the onions until golden.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, ginger and ground spices including the chilli powder, cardamom and cinnamon stick, if using, and sauté for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in the tomato and tomato paste, if using, then cover and simmer over low heat for 20–30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
  5. Stir in the tamarind liquid and sugar (and the coriander and green chilli if you’re using them). Cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is dark and shiny. The chittarnee is not ready until this happens.
  6. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir well. Continue to cook very gently for another 10 minutes.
  7. Serve hot, with steamed white rice. Any leftovers are great the next day in a sandwich.
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