From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
1 tblsp rapeseed oil
Knob of butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
5cm (2in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
100g (4oz) tikka masala curry paste (such as Patak's)
200g (7oz) canned chopped tomatoes
250ml (9fl oz) carton of coconut cream
150ml (¼ pint) chicken stock or water
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into thick strips
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g (7oz) natural yoghurt, extra to garnish
Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
For the Saffron Rice:
1 tsp saffron threads
Knob of butter
350g (12oz) basmati rice
6 green cardamom pods, cracked
Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-based pan with a lid. Add the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the tikka masala paste and cook for 1 minute. Season to taste. Add the tomatoes, coconut cream and chicken stock or water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until reduced by half and thickened.
Tip in the chicken strips and yoghurt and stir well to combine. Bring back to a gentle simmer, then cover with a lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the sauce is nicely reduced and the chicken is tender.
To prepare the saffron rice, place the saffron threads into a small bowl and pour over a little boiling water and leave to infuse. Melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan with a lid. When it's just starting to foam, tip in the rice and cardamom. Stir the rice for 2 minutes over a medium heat and season with a little salt. Pour over enough boiling water to cover the rice by 2.5cm (1in), bring to a simmer and put on the lid. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, then pour in the saffron, including the water that it's been soaking in. Cover the pot again and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the rice is just cooked but retains some bite.
To serve, spoon the chicken tikka masala into warmed serving bowls and put the saffron rice into separate bowls. Add dollops of yoghurt to each bowl of chicken tikka masala and a good scattering of coriander leaves to garnish.