Jenny Morris’s butter chicken recipe

Jenny Morris, Evita Bezuidenhout and Jamie Rowntree… all are contributing to the May 4 Darling Trust dinner and auction.

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BY BILLY SUTER

THIS month marks the launch of a new fundraising initiative by The Darling Trust – a dinner and auction at which Tannie Evita (Pieter-Dirk Uys) unites with chefs Jenny Morris and Jamie Rowntree to offer a night of great food and entertainment, as well as a chance to bid for generously donated auction lots.

The event at Evita se Perron in Darling, on May 4, has sold out, but good news for those who missed out is that plans are to make this a bi-annual event on the Western Cape social calendar.

The auction of once-in-a-lifetime lots will be the highlight of the night and live music by singer Dr Darren Shiloh Green, as well as the cabaret duo Godfrey Johnson and Nicholas McDiarmid. will entertain guests throughout the dinner. Actress and comedian Lizz Meiring is MC for the evening.

The DarlingTrust, established in 2003, was introduced to assist the previously disadvantaged communities of Darling. The aim is to empower individuals to help themselves, mainly through participation in the sector of education, skills development and health.

To celebrate the May 4 event, Durban-born Jenny Morris, also known as the Giggling Gourmet, had offered a recipe for her favourite home-cooked dish, butter chicken (see below).

Morris has authored many cookbooks, is a  magazine writer, a radio broadcaster and a TV presenter, as well a celebrity chef, teacher, caterer and culinary tour guide, both locally and internationally.

Durban-born Jenny Morris, also known as The Giggling Gourmet.

If that wasn’t enough, Morris also runs her own much-lauded restaurant, Yumcious, with husband David, in Cape Town’s Waterkant district.

Morris also often gives of her time and energy to raise funds for charity, a trait that started at a young age and which ultimately kicked off her love affair with food when, as a small girl, she prepared mouth-watering treats for fundraisers at her school.

SoSuterBill managed to corner Morris long enough to ask her a few questions:

What will you be cooking for the guests at the Darling Trust dinner?
Together with Karibu’s acclaimed chef, Jamie Rowntree, I have designed a five-course menu that includes a prawn starter, a second course of fresh smoked snoek with red wine barrel shavings and rooibos tea leaves set in a savoury pastry shell.

We have a main course of Karoo lamb cutlets and, my favourite, a dessert we’ve called Zuma’s Mess, and which consists of state captured malva pudding set on crème Anglaise and topped with a corruption of yoghurt, whipped cream, impeached guavas and mini meringues, drizzled with the most dishonestly amazing melted Darling Sweet toffee sauce.

Assorted cheeses from Fairview round out the menu.

Tell us a bit about your journey to achieving your goals of becoming South Africa’s Giggling Gourmet?
I always wanted to be a chef but my late father was against it, saying ‘what kind of a job is this for a woman’, and would not pay for me to study cheffing.

I decided when I left school I would ‘spite my father’ by joining the Post Office Telecom division (now Telkom ), and trained as a telephone electrician and constructed exchanges.

But I was determined to find a way into the food industry and approached a hotel so that I could get into the hospitality industry, knowing that If I started on the ground floor I would be able to work my way into the kitchen.

Tell us about The Cooks Playground in Cape Town.
The Cooks Playground, the largest recreational cooking school in Africa, has become the favourite destination for our now-famous TeamCooking events where food is the centre of a team-building event and our cooking classes for anyone wanting to improve their cooking skills.

Other activities include hen’s parties, baby showers, cooking parties, product launches and special events. Our catchphrase is … It’s Fork ’n Fun.

Tell us about Yumcious.
Yumcious is a bistro/cafe styled restaurant – open from 8am to 4.30pm, Monday to Saturday – that has both an a la carte menu and a buffet which we call the KiloTable.

Our menu features burgers and wraps and salads while the KiloTable – whereby you choose what you want and your plate is weighed and charged accordingly – has a wide selection of freshly made delicious and unusual salads. It also has cold meats and hot dishes, like butter chicken, duck in an Asian cherry sauce, Moroccan tagines, roast pork and crackling, tarts and quiches and pasta bakes.

We’re also open for breakfast and have a special running whereby you get two eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, toast and coffee –  for only R35

What is your favourite kitchen appliance?
My pestle and mortar.

What is your motto in the kitchen?
Keep it simple and delicious, fresh and local… oh and abundant as leftovers taste better.

Who is your chef hero?
Rick Stein. He has been my food hero for as long as I can remember. I love his passion for food and his excitement over wonderful ingredients.

I got to work with him at the Good Food & Wine Show in Durban a few years ago and it was a wonderful experience. He did not disappoint.

Complete this sentence: Food is…
…everything to me; it’s how I nurture, love and heal those around me.

What is your favourite meal to cook at home?
I love cooking butter chicken. It puts a long-lasting smile on my family’s face (see recipe below).

JENNY’S BUTTER CHICKEN RECIPE (Serves four)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil

6 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned

1 tablespoon of mustard seeds

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon garlic, crushed

¾  teaspoon garam masala

1 ½  teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon chilli powder

pinch of sugar

salt and pepper

4 cardamom pods, toasted and seeds ground

400 g large juicy tomatoes, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup chicken stock

1 cup fresh cream

100 g cold butter, cut into small pieces

To garnish

4 tablespoons cashew nuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Fresh coriander

Method

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a saucepan, and gently sauté the chicken pieces in batches till half cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside till late.

2. Add the remaining ghee to the saucepan and heat, now add the mustard seeds and fry for a few minutes so that they pop. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes till fragrant. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, coriander and chilli powder – do not let the spices burn! Add a little more ghee and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, cardamom, tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken stock.  Bring to the boil and cook till the sauce has become fragrant.

4. Pour the sauce into a food processor and blend till smooth. Return to the saucepan and add the cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer, adjust the seasoning, and return the chicken to the pot. Warm through.

5. Just before you are ready to serve, stir in the chopped butter a few pieces at a time. Spoon the butter chicken into a bowl, and garnish with chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts.

6. Serve with steaming hot basmati rice.

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