Mountain Gods and Tropical Spice
Coriander Seed and Curry Leaf Chicken Tikka, Pineapple and Green Mango Chutney, Pineapple and Chilli CarpaccioWritten by Kieran Creevy | Photography by Claire Burge
You’re sitting on the veranda of a houseboat with a mug of spiced chai in hand. The air has a crisp snap to it. A sharp smell of dry cold snow blows towards you from the horizon line that visually crowds your temporary base.
You can start to forget the sacred-cow-swerving, hard-bench-bouncing, multi-tone-horn-honking and terror-inducing drive that brought you here. It may however take a slight bit longer for your gluteus and hamstrings to be back on talking terms with you.
Your legs, back and lung muscles are taunted as your eyes and ambitions take in the breadth, height and white veiled flanks all around you. It’s a virtual playground for mountaineers, trekkers, backcountry skiers and snowboarders. You’re most definitely not in Kerry, Kent or Kansas anymore.
Here be Kashmir, here be the Himalaya.
1 banana leaf, cut into 4 (available fresh or in the freezer section of most Asian stores)
Fresh Chapatti or Paratha (optional)
2 breasts organic or free range chicken (skin off), each sliced into 4.
4 tbsp rapeseed oil (for frying)
4 tsp ginger paste
4 tsp garlic paste
Juice of 1 lime
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ajwain seeds
Handful dried or fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp finely chopped green chilli
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
Pineapple and green mango chutney
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp ginger
1/2 pineapple, skinned, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 green mango (unripe), skinned, stoned and finely diced
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 tbsp muscavado sugar
1 tsp green cardamon seeds
Pineapple and chilli carpaccio
4 thin slices of fresh pineapple, peeled and cored.
1 deseeded birds eye chilli, deseeded and finely diced
3 tsp caster sugar
Method – Advanced Preparation
Heat the rapeseed oil in a pan, when hot add the spices, stir for 1-2 minutes, then add the pineapple chunks.
Stir on a medium heat for 3 minutes, add enough water to just about cover the pineapple, then simmer until the water has almost evaporated.
Add the cider vinegar and sugar, bring to the boil, turn off the heat, add the mango and leave to cool.
Once cold store in a tupperware box or glass jar.
The chutney will keep for 3-4 days in a cool place or up to 1 month in the fridge.
Season the chicken with salt and the lime juice, then add the garlic & ginger pastes.
Mix well and leave in the fridge for 30mins to 1 hour.
Add the oil from the 2nd marinade to a pan, when hot stir in the spices and cook for 2 minutes.
Pour the pan mixture onto the yoghurt, mix well, season with sea salt and rub into the chicken.
Leave the chicken to marinate overnight, then transfer to a ziploc bag.
When heading outdoors in warm conditions, add 2 cups of ice to a roll-top dry bag, place the ziploc bag of chicken in this bag to keep the temp low, and seal the dry bag. If you’ve made enough for more than 1 dinner, store the chicken (in the sealed ziploc and dry bags) underwater in a small stream.
Pour the rapeseed oil into a pan, turn the heat on your stove to max, when smoking add the marinated chicken and sear briefly on all sides. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, add any remaining marinade, cover and continue to cook, shaking the pan occasionally until cooked through. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Remove to a covered plate and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes.
While the chicken is resting, clean and dry the pan. Place back on a high heat, add the sugar and chilli and mix together. Add the pineapple slices, cover and remove from the heat.
Cut each pineapple carpaccio slice into 2. Place 4 halves on a section of banana leaf, top with the chicken tikka and marinade. Spoon the pineapple and mango chutney into a mound in the centre of the leaf.
Use the spare leaves as plates for the Chapattis
For bonus presentation points wrap and tie each leaf using the hard spine as twine/ribbon. Eat with clean hands or a spoon.
In addition to fifteen years work as an international mountain leader and trekking guide on five continents, Kieran has nearly two decades experience of catering for some of the most demanding customers – fellow instructors who want nutritious food with a bit flair, lots of it, now and don’t care that it’s minus 10c and snowing!Twitter @kierancreevy
Claire has been described as part chaos, part rocket fuel. When she is isn’t racing down mountains on her bicycle, you will find her behind a lens and licking the wooden spoon.Twitter @claireburge
Lizalet Oosthuizen is a dietitian and food enthusiast with a love for cooking and adventure. She has joined the team as the food stylist, but mostly it’s an excuse to taste Kieran’s delicious food.