A few years ago, Mr Chilli and I had the best holiday of our lives – a three-week holiday to China. Once we got back we went through a bit of a Chinese cooking phase in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere from our trip, and one of the dishes Mr Chilli made a lot was Chinese vegetable curry with egg-fried rice.
Back then we didn’t know how to make the curry from scratch (this was before I began my mission to ditch premade foods) so he used a packet sauce that was really tasty – just like the Chinese curry you get from takeaways.
We’d gotten out of the habit of making it and haven’t for a couple of years, but at the weekend I remembered about it and decided to try a homemade version in a fit of nostalgia – with chicken this time, now I eat meat again. It was gorgeous and I can safely say we won’t be going back to the packet sauce!
Chinese-style chicken curry
- 200g cooked chicken, cut up or shredded into largeish chunks (or use breast/thigh meat cubed and browned before adding to the sauce) I used the leftovers from roast chicken, working out at £1.09 each portion
- 2 pak choi, leaves separated £1
- 2 small onions, peeled and chopped (I would cut into wedges next time) 6p
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed 6p
- Big chunk ginger, grated 4p
- ½ tsp paprika 2p
- ½-1 tsp cayenne pepper to taste 2p
- ½ tsp ground coriander 2p
- 2 tsp curry powder 10p
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice 2p
- 3 tbsp cornflour (Mr Chilli suggested ½ tbsp more next time though as he found it a tiny bit thin) 15p
- 350ml chicken stock (free as homemade with bones from a roast)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar 6p
- A couple of dashes soy sauce, to taste 15p
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil 6p
Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan and cook the onions for a few minutes until softened, then add the garlic and ginger and stir round for a minute. Take off the heat and add the spices and cornflour, mixing well into a paste (add more oil if needed).
Add the stock, mix well and then return to the heat to cook through for ten minutes or so, stirring well, until thickened. Add vinegar and soy sauce to taste and then the chicken and pak choi. Continue to cook until everything is cooked through and the veg are tender.
£1.47 per portion – chicken meals are always expensive for me as I only buy free range; you can make the meal cheaper by substituting the chicken for vegetables and cashews or prawns.
EDIT – just noticed a typo – it’s £1.97 per portion! See tips above for reducing cost; pak choi is also a more expensive veg so could sub for something else.
Egg fried rice
I cook my rice using the absorption method in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian (probably the cookbook I’d have if I could only have one). You can cook it however you like though.
- 2 portions long-grain rice, cooked and cooled (I used value basmati rice) 17p
- 1 egg, beaten 17p
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil 6p
- 80g frozen peas, defrosted by pouring boiling water over them 8p
- Good-sized piece ginger, grated 4p
- 2 spring onions, (mine were reduced – yours might cost more) 5p
- Good couple of dashes soy sauce 15p
Heat the oil to medium in a big frying pan and add the spring onions. Cook for a couple of minutes until softened, then add the ginger and continue to cook for a minute. Add the rice and stir-fry until cooked through. Push the rice to the edges, leaving a gap in the middle, add a drop more oil if dry, and add the egg, stirring as it sets to scramble it. Mix through the rice and season with a decent amount of soy sauce before serving.
36p per portion (you can reduce the cost by using value long-grain rice, or skipping the egg etc and just serving boiled rice – I’d still add the peas to the curry then)