*These gorgeous little pies are the perfect way to celebrate the onset of spring. Take these to a weekend picnic or gathering and watch them disappear. They're filled with tender, saucy and creamy butter chicken and are great served warm or even slightly warm or cold! They don't even need sauce! *
I was having dinner with Mr NQN and The Wizard the other day when they started talking about sporting injuries. You see Mr NQN has hurt his knee and guffawed when The Wizard started detailing all his injuries and explained, "Let's just say that he likes to show off...around women."
The Wizard looked down grinning, slightly chastened and nodded. He told us of a story of how he had joined a gym and there was a glass wall between the parallel bars and a classful of women doing yoga. He did some quick math. They were facing him and he used to be good at gymnastics. He thought he might be able to impress the women with an Olympic style dismount perhaps with a flourish at the end.
He hoisted himself up on the bars and gained momentum. Unfortunately he started the dismount at the wrong time and instead of landing on his feet, he went thud straight into the glass wall. Lying on the floor winded and crumpled, all he heard was only a laugh from a man in the corner.
"Who saw?" he croaked.
"Everyone mate," said the other guy still laughing.
While most people may perhaps give up on this behaviour, The Wizard doesn't. When he was jogging in a park and passed a group of women working out he increased his stride and puffed out his chest. Unfortunately a tree root got in the way and down he went. What hurt even more was that when he got up, nobody noticed!
We use the park nearby us a lot (and no not for impressing people and working out, that's the least impressive way for me to make an impression, trust me). We love picnics and now that it's Spring (Yayyyy!!!) I'm using any excuse to have one.
These little butter chicken pies were inspired by our Meat Pie chase around Sydney. They ended up being some of my favourite pies with the buttery short pastry holding in spicy and creamy chicken. I made mine slightly different in that I added peas and carrots into the mix as I wanted it to have a vegetable component to it too. Otherwise you could make them straight chicken pies.
You can fast track these by using pre-bought shortcrust but I just had a batch in the freezer. This makes 24 party or picnic sized pies but of course you can halve them depending on how many you are feeding. Just be sure to make more because these are very addictive and you can't stop at just one. Also make sure that if you are out having a picnic, to look out for the man that may be running near you and whether he trips on a tree root or not! ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, what would impress you? Would a perfect gymnastic move impress you? And have you ever hurt yourself or your pride trying to impress someone else?
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Little Butter Chicken Pies
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes + 35 minutes
Makes 24 pies
- Ghee for frying (use butter or oil if you can't get ghee)
- 3 coriander roots, washed very well and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground cardamom
- 450g/1lb boneless chicken breast (or thigh), cut into cubes
- 1.5 cups tomato puree or diced tomatoes
- 1.5 cups cream
- 2 small carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Chilli powder to taste
- 1 cup peas
- Oil spray
- 1kg/2.2lbs. shortcrust pastry
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 teaspoons milk or water
Step 1 - Add some ghee to a heavy based pot or large saucepan. Saute coriander roots, garlic, ginger and onion until translucent and fragrant. Add in a bit more ghee and add spices and fry for a minute. Then add in the chicken in two lots browning the chicken. Add the tomato puree, cream, carrots and tomato paste and bring up to a simmer. Place the lid on the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook for another 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Cool completely by spreading out onto a tray.
Step 2 - Spray two x 12 cupcake trays with oil spray. Roll out shortcrust pastry on a floured surface and cut out enough for bases. Press these into the tins and dock with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (this is to prevent shrinkage). Also cut out the top lids in pastry and place in the fridge.
Step 3 - Meanwhile preheat oven to 215C/420F. Place baking paper and weights in the cavities of the pies and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the weights and paper and bake blind for 5 minutes. Allow to cool. Spoon the cooled filling into the pies and top with the lids. Brush with the egg yolk mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes.