Cooking with Mark

CHICKEN & APRICOT CURRY WITH POTATO STRAWS

Should fruit ever be used as an ingredient in savoury cooking? Try this chicken and apricot curry and you decide

We discuss food a lot in the office; a subject we love, we’re not all great cooks but we have a mutual love of good food. Out latest discussion had the office split, should fruit ever be used as an ingredient in savoury cooking?
I really don’t a bit of fruit in my dinner. I pour over food images daily online; a specific pizza topping combination seems to have caused quite a controversy of late, the “food of the Hawaiian’s”, pizza with pineapple. I am not a fan, but folks have taken to social media to express their utter disgust that this combo is even a thing?
Outspoken celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay defiantly isn’t a fan, he’s vowed online to consume one of the “monstrosities” live on Facebook if his fans made 500 charitable donations. Ramsay’s not alone in his opinion, obscurely, Icelandic president has suggested a total ban on such toppings, and this would be a national disaster for the Nordic island. I have visited pizza-loving Iceland in the past, I was astonished by the number of pizza outlets there are. Icelanders’ loves a pizza!

I HAVE VISITED PIZZA-LOVING ICELAND IN THE PAST, I WAS ASTONISHED BY THE NUMBER OF PIZZA OUTLETS THERE ARE!

After a quick stopover, my flight from Iceland to the US that night was delayed for eight hours, stranded on the island we stayed up all night in daylight and guess what was on the dinner menu?
A lot of Middle Eastern dishes as we know have fruit as an ingredient, and it works. The hype of the pineapple pizza travesty may have gone a little too far. Although I still believe certain fruits should never be a savoury combination.
My sister Emma and I still laugh about the days she used to cook for me. I used to visit her regularly; she always prepared me food, one weekend I was served a simple chicken curry. She knows I love spicy food, but a mildly spiced, slimy chicken curry, dotted with raisins, should be a thing that never happens.
In the early 90s, the UK saw a huge sway of timesaving tinned or jarred ‘cook-in/pour over’ sauces in stores. They were sweet, salty and not at all tasty, advertised with catchy jingles like, ‘I feel like Chicken Tonight’ the nation embraced the TV ads, clucking chicken dance and the time-saving convenience, my sister included. So not to offend I agreed to eat the ‘cook-in curry’ on the condition she removed the raisins!
As the discussions continue I still have never eaten a pineapple topped pizza, but I have made prawn and pineapple Thai curry, and it was delicious, another favourite dish I made recently was as a chicken and apricot curry. It’s a dish I have been preparing for over twenty years, a tried and tested winner. Slow cooked, spicy and sweet, topped with potato straws, it’s been classic dinner party dish many times over, simple to make, free of a catchy jingle and crazy clucky chicken dance.

Recipes, food styling and photography by Mark Setchfield

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