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What’s cooking today: Chicken curry with potatoes and...



What’s cooking today: Chicken curry with potatoes and gem squash

Tony Jackman’s chicken curry with potatoes and gem squash, based on a favourite Ramola Parbhoo recipe. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Sweet spices perfume and flavour this easy chicken curry which, unusually, contains not only potatoes but South Africa’s beloved gem squash.

Ramola Parbhoo’s Indian Cookery for South Africa, first published in 1985, contains a delicious curry recipe that includes peeled and cubed gem squash. Just as life is too short to stuff a mushroom, it is also too short to peel a gem squash, as Lin Sampson explained last week with typically wry humour in her TGIFood column, so I pondered quartering the gem squash without peeling it. Then I picked up a gem squash and it was one of the softer ones, easy to peel. Gems are strange that way.

The chicken portions are first marinated for three hours, and the onions, potatoes and gem squash are braised in spiced oil before the curry is finally put together.

This is not Parbhoo’s recipe verbatim; I used considerably more masala, added star anise and adjusted some of the quantities of other spices.


8 chicken portions (such as thigh, wing, leg, chunks of breast)

3 Tbsp cooking oil

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large onion, chopped

2 gem squashes, peeled (or not) and diced

1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes

2 cups water (or enough water to cover)

1 Tbsp hot masala

Salt to taste

2 Tbsp coriander stems, finely chopped

Coriander leaves, for garnish

For the marinade:

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp hot masala

1 heaped tsp ground turmeric

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp lemon juice

For the braise:

¼ cup (60 ml) cooking oil

6 cloves

6 cardamom pods

1 star anise

3 or 4 pieces of cassia bark


Mix the marinade ingredients and coat the chicken pieces in it. Leave to marinate for three hours.

Heat oil in a heavy pot and add the cloves, cardamom, star anise and cassia, simmering on a very low heat for about half a minute. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they turn golden.

Add the chicken and 1 Tbsp masala and braise it gently for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice, then add the potatoes, gem squash and water to cover, and bring it to a gentle simmer. Let it cook slowly for half an hour.

Add the can of chopped tomatoes, stir, season with salt, and cook gently until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the chopped coriander stems just before you serve.

Serve with basmati rice, garnished with coriander. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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