When I was preparing the green mangoes for this recipe, the aroma took me straight back to my schoolboy days. Friends and I would throw stones at the mangoes and tamarinds hanging from trees to land them for our after-school treat. I used to steal salt from my mum’s kitchen, wrap it in a piece of tissue and keep it in my pocket just for such an opportunity. It’s that beautiful combination of extremely sour and salty that I set out to re-create here.
Green mangoes are available all year round from Asian food shops.
600g chicken thigh fillets
½ teaspoon red chilli powder, or to taste, plus a little extra to garnish
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
10 fresh or dried curry leaves
2 long thin green chillies
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
3 small green mangoes
2 tablespoons Onion Paste (page 218)
½ teaspoon garam masala
fresh coriander leaves
Assemble all the ingredients and equipment before you begin. You need a non-reactive bowl and a large sauté or frying pan with a lid.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Put the chicken in the bowl with the chilli powder and turmeric, then season with salt and stir together so the chicken pieces are coated in spices. Roughly chop or crumble the curry leaves and stir them into the chicken, then set aside.
Remove the stalks from the green chillies, if necessary, then cut each chilli into 3 pieces.
Heat the vegetable oil over a medium-high heat in the pan. Add the chicken pieces with the curry leaves and stir for 2 minutes until the chicken changes colour. Watch closely so the spices on the chicken do not burn. Stir in the water, cover the pan and leave the chicken pieces to simmer over a medium heat while you prepare the mangoes.
Peel the mangoes, then cut them in half and use your fingers or a sharp knife to remove the white seed, then use a small spoon to scrape out the bitter white pith in the indentation where the seed was. Finely chop the flesh of 2 of the mangoes. Cut the flesh of the third mango into very fine julienne slices to use as a garnish.
Turn the heat under the pan with the chicken to medium-high. Add the chopped mangoes and onion paste and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in the green chillies and garam masala and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium, re-cover the pan and leave the chicken and mangoes to cook for a further 5–7 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Meanwhile, rinse and chop enough coriander leaves to make about 2 tablespoons. Stir three-quarters of the coriander into the curry and adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary.
Sprinkle with the remaining chopped coriander and garnish with the raw mango slices and a sprinkling of chilli powder just before serving.