In springtime, wild garlic is abundantly found in woodland areas. I love nothing more than picking it during its season and making my wild garlic pesto, or cooking meals with it. Recently my daughter walked with a friend in Epping Forest on the outskirts of London, and picked far more of it than she could possibly use. I find it so difficult to see food going to waste, and so I decided to create a new recipe with it for supper. It was a case of using the wild garlic as the inspiration, and then also using other food I already had, which on that day was cavolo nero, and some gorgeous free range organic chicken breasts. I felt that Indian food was what I desired to create, because both kale and wild garlic are not typically used in this cuisine, and I wanted to experiment. I definitely sensed that the end result would be delicious.
I was right; the dish I ended up with was wholesome, earthy and fresh tasting, and as pretty as a picture to boot! I served it with a small helping of soft white freshly cooked basmati rice, and garnished the lot with the pretty, delicate star-shaped white wild garlic flowers. The rice matched the flowers, and together they contrasted beautifully with the chicken and the greens. Wild garlic can be substituted with chopped regular garlic, and as for what to substitute the pretty white wild garlic flowers to adorn the dish with…. I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Ingredients to serve 3-4 people:
Three large skinless free range organic chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
A small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
A small green chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
Half tsp coriander seeds
Half tsp fennel seeds
1 inch piece of cinnamon bark
3 Cardamom pods, gently crushed
1 tsp grated jaggery
Half a large tin of chopped tomatoes
Three handfuls of freshly picked wild garlic leaves (white flowers removed and placed in a bowl of cold water to use later), roughly chopped- or two garlic cloves, finely chopped
A large handful of cavolo nero or regular kale, roughly chopped
Half tsp turmeric powder
A level tsp each of ground cumin and coriander powders
Half tsp kashmiri (mild) chilli powder
Salt to taste
Ghee for frying
Preheat some eating bowls on the lowest heat in your oven. Heat a tablespoon of ghee on a medium heat in a lidded wok or similar, until hot. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and once they fizzle, add the onion. Stir together until the onion is softened and slightly golden, before adding the green chilli, chopped garlic if using, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, and cardamom pods. Mix everything together and then throw in the turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powders, again stirring to disperse the ground spices well. Now add the cavolo nero and wild garlic leaves, and fry for five minutes before adding the tomatoes, jaggery and around a level teaspoon of salt, and cook on a medium heat for around ten minutes, until the tomatoes have thickened and incorporated well with the other ingredients.
Now add the chicken, and saute it with the sauce for five minutes before adding a mugful of hot water. Now put the lid on, and cook the curry on a low to medium heat for around half an hour, stirring from time to time. Add a little more water if you wish, or if it looks too dry, and check and adjust seasoning. Give it one final stir before turning off the heat.
Serve in the warmed bowls, with some freshly cooked basmati rice, and arrange a few of the drained pretty, wild garlic flowers on top of each serving.