I had a day off yesterday and I’d received family requests for chicken curry. Rather than just make it up as I go along, I thought I’d dig out a recipe book that I picked up in a charity shop for a whopping 75p years ago and actually try to follow a recipe: Murghi do-piazza (Chicken with onions). Dupiaza was one of my frequent choices when we lived in Brum, and I’ve always got lots of onions to hand, so thought I’d give this a go.

The book is Michael Pandya’s Complete Indian Cookbook. Published in the early eighties, it gives a basic grounding in Indian ingredients and simple recipes for a wide range of vegetarian and meat dishes. I’ve referred to it a few times over the years, which makes it a success as a cookery book.

I failed to follow the recipe to the letter, but the dish was an enormous success. The only changes I made were using soy yoghurt, instead of dairy, because that’s what I had in the fridge, and swapping fresh ginger for the dried in the original recipe, slicing the tomatoes,rather than quartering them, and cooking the garnish onions in thick rings.

It worked well. Really well – the sauce, both sweet from the onions and zingy from the lemons, was really much more complex than it would have been if I’d just improvised.

Such are the comings and goings in our house, that we frequently all eat at different times, so I just tend to leave the pans on the side and the kids help themselves when they get in/get up/get hungry or whatever.

When I got up this morning it’d all gone. Which is about as good a recommendation as you’re going to get. If you’re reading this, Mr Pandya, I salute you!

The leftovers.


1 chicken

1/2 to 1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

175g ghee

4 large onion, coarsely chopped.

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 inch/2.5 cm ginger, crushed.

300ml yoghurt

300ml water

6 cloves

1 green cardamom pod

12 black peppercorns

2 x 1 inch/2.5cm peices cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chilli powder


1 teaspoon garam masala

2 large tomatos, sliced.

1 onion, sliced and fried in rings.

Cut the chicken into pieces, feed the carcass and skin to the dog or use it to make stock.

Rub the salt and lemon juice into the chicken pieces and leave to stand for half an hour.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, then the chicken, onions, garlic and remaining spices. Cook gently for 15 minutes, keeping the ingredients moving to stop them catching.

Over a low heat, stir in the yoghurt, then the water and any juice from the slated chicken. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender (40-50 mins).

Sprinkle with garam masala, arrange the tomatoes and onion slices on top and place, uncovered in a moderate oven (around 180C)for 10 minutes before serving.

We had ours with this delicious rice.