Baked Chicken Curry Pilaf Recipe
I'm not long back from my cottage getaway (see cottage montage in previous post) so the recipe of the week, in my mind had to be inspired by our travels. But I'll give it to you straight, Mount Dandenong eateries in my view.. leave a lot to be desired. It's what we thought 3 years ago, it's what we thought last week.. and it's what a Mount Dandenong gift shop owner confirmed and lamented about when I bought a stack of spices and a fruit/veg toothpick holder (I chose the 'cut tomato'). The gift shop owner and her chef husband now travel off the mountain when dining out for dinner (and she claims to be the 'bigger foodie' of the two of them). We did however disagree about one local restaurant & it turns out they (the local couple) haven't been there in years. Hubby and I insisted they should try it again because our tourist-socks were, quite frankly blown off!
The restaurant is Mount Dandenong's only Indian 'joint' - being "Indian by Nature". Apologies, mobile phone photo's only:
The dining area is mostly carpeted and lino flooring tiles appear near the register/counter towards the back of the restaurant, near the kitchen actually.
"Clay oven delicacies" share plate entree: Mixed Grill "Speciality of the House"(Marinated in yoghurt, herbs & spices)- Lamb chops, Chicken Tikka, Tandoori Chicken & Sheekh Kebab $20. All baked in a clay Tandoor oven. The garnish is a bit 70's, however the flavours were up-to-the-minute-delicious! And to be honest, the orange and lemon slices worked beautifully with these meats.
Shared mains: Lamb Saag $13 (Diced lamb simmered in fresh spinach puree & spices). Pumpkin Masala $11 (Cubes of butternut pumpkin cooked with onions, tomatoes and finished with chef's own style). Lemon Rice $5 (Basmati rice cooked with mustard seeds, curry leaves, coconut and lemon essence). Raita $3 (Churned homemade yoghurt with grated cucumber and garnished with ground cumin). Mint Achar/Chutney $2. Not pictured: Mint Paratha $3.50 (Flaky wholemeal bread baked with fresh mint) & Roti $2 (Flat wholemeal bread baked in Tandoor).
The seating area at Indian By Nature is kind-of limited (20 to 30?), but it's clean and classy in an old fashioned way. The atmosphere is calm and relaxing & the service is fast and friendly. We couldn't fault our waiter.. nor the food. Value for money food! And without paper napkins too.. I had a linen napkin placed in my lap. There were no oil slicks in our individual dishes -to our relief. Everything seemed 'light' and oh-so-tasty. This would be the best Indian I've ever eaten and hubby would tie this for first place along with one of our local (more expensive) Indian restaurants.
Indian By Nature, Shop 3/1526 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Olinda, Vic, 3788 Ph: 03) 97510111.
Dinner now 7 nights, Mon-Sun 5pm 'til late. And "YAY!" for them because a number of places in the Dandenongs are only open from Wed-Sun or Fri-Sun.
How about a bake-in-the-oven Indian dish?
Baked Chicken Curry Pilaf
- -4 chicken thigh fillets (each fillet cut in half
- -1 onion, finely chopped
- -2/3 cup green peas (cooked)
- -3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- -1.5 cups long grain rice (jasmine or basmati)
- -3 teaspoons of curry powder of your choice (I used a 'Herbie's' blend)
- -2.5 cups hot chicken stock (flavour hot water with stock powder if you like)
- -Quick splashes of rice bran oil (for onion & chicken)
- - Two tablespoons of fresh mint leaves shredded (I don't often say this, but in this instance, dried mint can be substituted! Use one teaspoon of dried mint).
- -Lemon or lime wedge to serve - also plain yoghurt too (which is what I like to dollop alongside my curry flavoured meals)
- -Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius
- -Heat a non-stick pan, add a teaspoon of oil & brown chicken slightly
- -Add curry powder, stir and 'fry off' for about 10 to 20 seconds
- -Set chicken aside in a separate dish
- -Wipe pan out with kitchen towel, add another teaspoon of oil and fry onion for 5 minutes
- -Add grated ginger to pan, fry about a minute, then add rice and stir-fry another minute
- -Transfer rice mixture into a casserole dish, top with the chicken and pour over chicken stock
- -Cover casserole dish tightly with foil or a lid and bake for 50 to 60 min's (until rice is cooked)
-Remove casserole dish from oven & with some tongs, remove chicken onto a plate, then pour cooked peas into rice mixture and stir.
-Sprinkle mint over rice.
-Serve rice on a plate alongside chicken.
-I made mashed sweet butternut pumpkin as an additional sidedish and it married very well with the curry flavours in the chicken. Sweet cherry tomatoes on our plates were also a perfect accompaniment, along with yoghurt & a citrusy wedge (just so happened to be lime, but lemon would have been just as good, if not better).
And guess what? I forgot to mix the peas in with the rice! I finished taking my photographs and started plating up my family's dinner. When I saw the pea's on the bench I decided to scatter them over everyone's plates.. like a garnish. It worked out fine - but the rice might have been a bit prettier with pea's (for the blog)!