THE ISLAND COOK

CHARGRILLED CHICKEN with green chilli-coriander sauce & red rice

Why torture ourselves with the faint hope of a barbecue opportunity when we can just fire up the trusty hob under a griddle pan? A robust, preferably cast-iron frying pan would do, but you won't get those pleasing charred lines, and anyway a griddle pan is a damn useful piece of kit for cutting the cooking fat. This is a feisty number and no mistake, and one that characterizes my approach to cooking – so big and bold on spicy flavour you won't even think about that absent fat, salt and bulk. And it's quick off the mark too. I must add that the dish is inspired by the wonderful Mandola Sudanese restaurant in Notting Hill, my former local, which in the post-movie era provided a vital beacon of affordability and integrity in a sea of eaterie excess.

Serves 2

For the rice
1 long red sweet pepper
about 1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for rubbing
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, torn in half
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cardamom pods, crushed – seeds removed if you don't like chewing on the husks
1/3 mug (100g) white long-grain rice
1/2 chicken stock cube
For the sauce 
good handful of coriander including stems
about 4 heaped tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1 small green chilli, deseeded (or to taste)
1/2 tsp each coriander seeds and ground cumin
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp agave syrup or honey

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250g pack of 2 skinless chicken breast fillets
1/2 tsp each paprika, ground cumin and soft dark brown sugar
olive oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. Halve the pepper and remove the stalk, seeds and white bits. Place skin-side up on a baking sheet and squash flat. Rub with a little oil and season. Roast in the oven while you cook the rice. Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the shallots with a grinding of salt for 5 mins. Push to one side, add the bay and spices and cook for a few mins. Stir in the rice and cook for about a minute. Meanwhile, pop the half stock cube into the rice mug, fill two-thirds with boiling water (c. 200ml) and stir to dissolve. Add to the rice and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 mins. While the rice is doing, whizz up the sauce ingredients in a blender and transfer to a bowl. Place the chicken between 2 sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until about 1cm thick. Mix together the spices, sugar and seasoning. Sprinkle half over the top side of the chicken. Turn the heat off under the rice, remove the pepper from the oven and leave to cool slightly, then peel off the skin and chop. Stir into the rice and re-cover. Heat a griddle pan over a medium-high heat and brush with oil. Add the chicken spice-side down and cook for about 4 mins. Sprinkle over the rest of the spice mix and cook for about another 4 mins or until cooked through. Serve with the rice and sauce – nice with courgettes.