Cooking Experiences

Recreating Grandmother Sardara’s chicken curry

Caroline describes a recipe she caught at the gym a few years ago and wonders what “punning” a chicken involves…

A few years ago I was on the treadmill at the gym and watching a cookery programme in which various members of the public were cooking recipes which had been passed down through the generations of their family. I tuned in just as a lady was finishing a lamb hotpot but what really grabbed my attention was the next participant, a lady whose family were originally from the Punjab and who was cooking her grandmother’s chicken and spinach curry.

I was tempted to get off the treadmill there and then in pursuit of pen and paper to write down the recipe. I decided, however, that it would be available online and sure enough it was. I emailed myself the link and Grandmother Sardara’s chicken curry became a firm favourite so you can imagine my dismay when I went to make it one day and discovered that the link led nowhere. The recipe had been removed and no amount of Googling yielded the vital information. Luckily my techno-savvy daughter managed somehow to recover it from the ether. The day was saved and I learnt a salutary lesson: never depend on a link working forever.

The dish, originating in the Punjab, used to be made for royalty and here’s what to do:


1 small chicken chopped into pieces (to make life simpler I use skinned and boned thighs)
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes
3 medium onions
A bag of spinach
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp dill
1 dessert spoon salt
1 dessert spoon red chilli powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp black onion seeds
Pinch of cumin powder
5 cloves garlic
Small piece of root ginger
5 green chillies
Bunch of fresh coriander
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garam masala


Chop the onions and brown in the olive oil

Add the tomatoes, crushed garlic, shredded ginger, salt and all spices except the dill

Add the chicken and a cup of water, and cook on high for five minutes

Lower the heat and simmer for 15 mins

Increase the heat and “pun”* the chicken ( or do as I do and just let the curry cook gently whilst the spinach cooks)

In a separate pan add the spinach, milk, dill and green chillies and cook for 20 mins

Add the spinach mixture to the curry and top with chopped coriander and garam masala before serving.

* if anyone can tell me what “punning” the chicken entails I’d love to know! As you can imagine, Googling “pun chicken” gets you nowhere fast although I do now have a good supply of chicken jokes.

Categories: Cooking Experiences

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