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The Stampede and…Quick Chicken Curry

Back in the day when Archie was at boarding school, the boys felt a sense of being deprived, neglected, or even underprivileged.

While this was a far stretch from reality, the boarders did share the sentiment that should any blessing, any privilege or any offering come their way, they would dive on it.  And dive they did.

One day, it happened to be a very special anniversary celebrating the one hundred or so years since the commencement of the school and so there was an extra special assembly in the school’s chapel with all sorts of VIP guests and many special speeches and choral verses from the choir and rousing historical anecdotes and everything else imaginable the boarders would find brain-numbingly boring.

A very mild curry, perfect for everyone in the family

A very mild curry, perfect for everyone in the family

But they all hung in there.  Only because they had been alerted that after the very special and ultra-long assembly there was to be a memorable morning tea with all dignitaries and VIPs and other important guests invited as were the boys and not only were the boys to be at the morning tea, they were to be fed donuts.  Donuts!  That treat and rarity the boys had not seen presented ever, in their history at the school.

During the assembly it was all the boys could think about and their anticipation grew with every anecdote and passing mention of history.  As they were released from the chapel they saw long tables set up with pressed white linen tablecloths and big silver trays containing that very never before seen commodity, donuts.  Fears of missing out grew, became heightened and caused a fever-pitch sense of ‘me first’, and the boys began to walk, then hurry, then run, then stampede towards the white tables filled with donuts.  As they ran their speed increased and elbows were flung out in an effort to prohibit anyone from overtaking them and getting to the tables first.

Behind the tables were volunteers.  Ladies who were connected to the school in a very genteel sense and therefore not necessarily used to feeding large groups of starving boys.  These volunteers were lined up and some were holding their trays with sweet smiles on their faces ready to serve the boys they were expecting to line up in a gentlemanly and genteel manner.

But when the rarity of donuts is put in front of starving, growing boys, all genteel traits are discarded and the mantra becomes, ‘survival of the fittest’.  A stampede ensued and the mothers holding the trays looked horrified and feared for their lives as they saw these deprived school boys thundering towards them at an ever increasing pace.  As they lurched ever forward towards the trays one woman was heard to scream, ‘Help me, help me; I’m going to be killed’.

Quick Chicken Curry

Quick Chicken Curry

No one was killed.

No one was even injured.

But donuts after chapel were never, ever served again.

One of the things never served at boarding school was food with a bit of spice.  This is a fairly mild curry but even at this degree of mildness it would have been too much for Archie’s taste buds, however, he is now slow adjusting to food with heat and so this is something palatable for the whole family.

Quick Chicken Curry

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is a recipe that contains easily sourced ingredients, so being common, they are economically priced.

  • 2 tbspns sunflower oil
  • 500g skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut in to 3cm pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 long green chillies, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 tbs mild curry paste like tikka masala
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbs crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbs chopped coriander
  • Pappadums, to serve


  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) basmati rice
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 8 green cardamon pods, lightly bruised
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 12 fresh curry leaves

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Heat the sunflower oil in a flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until chicken starts to brown.  Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for a further 1 minute or until fragrant.

Season, then stir in tomato, coconut milk and peanut butter until combined.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.  Stir through chopped coriander.

Meanwhile, for the pilaf, wash the rice under cold running water to remove any starch.  Drain and set aside.  Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened but not coloured.  Add washed rice, spices and curry leaves, and stir for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Add 2 cops (500ml) cold water and 1 tsp salt, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stand, without removing the lid, for 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked.

Fluff the rice with a fork and serve with chicken curry and pappadums.

This recipe is from Delicious, November 2011.

Chicken Curry with a Rice Pilaf

Chicken Curry with a Rice Pilaf

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  1. Your writing is so hilarious. I had a huge grin on my face as I read your post and had vivid pictures of the boys going for the donuts and the looks on the facce of the poor ladies behind the tables, what a sight, too bad there is no photos.

  2. Kris Radge says:

    Reading this at midnight trying not to burst out laughing Charlie was really hard. Hilarious.
    Thanks for the fabulous curry, it’s no heat at home here too. xx

  3. Putting hot, fried donuts in front of a bunch of always hungry pre-teen and teenage boys … someone wasn’t thinking it all out. 🙂 It’s a shame they were never served the treat again, though. With their metabolisms, they didn’t need to fear the consequences that we adults do. I have a bakery about 5 minutes away that I often pass on the way home. I restrict myself to ONE treat a week when I really need it.

    As to the curry, well, coming from a meat and potato Slavic diet, spices were not something I was exposed to growing up. I had to wait til my early 20s for my first curry dish. Goat curry. It was delicious and this one sounds just as tasty.

  4. growing up I always wanted to go to boarding school it always sounded so exotic and adventurous! maybe I was better off at home where treats were frequently given and you didn’t have to compete with hundreds of hungry teenagers! this curry looks delicious!

  5. Jennifer Cullen says:

    Who knew donuts could cause a riot! Love it….

  6. So hysterical! But I could feel the pain of those boys as you described the mind-numbing assembly, so I completely understand why they would have stampeded those lovely genteel ladies (who should have just put those trays down and run the other way).

    As for the recipe, my family loves spicy food! I will have to check the pantry and see if I can give this one a try tonight.

  7. I can just envision those boys stampeding toward the donut table. Boys will be boys when it comes to donuts.

  8. I can just picture the scene! This curry looks delicious. I’m sure we would all enjoy it. Haven’t had one in a while either.

  9. This look like a darn good chicken curry! One of my fave dishes.

  10. While I’ve never really cared for doughnuts, this sounds much like my high school’s behaviour when it came to the canteen’s chocolate muffins; we’d all try to come up with ways to get out of class early so we could be first in line before the (undercooked, not even that great) muffins ran out.

  11. What a story, I was reading as fast as I could (almost as fast as the boys charged) to see if they inadvertently toppled the tables over, launching the donuts into outer space. Would the poor ladies be trapped under the tables as further chaos ensued? I was so glad that no one was killed or injured, I was certain someone would be. And something else I was rather certain about, was that Archie was the leader of this starving pack!
    I love a good curry particularly when it’s -10°C as it has been for a while. Although today is gorgeous and sunny, we are expecting 5-10 cm of snow overnight; driving to work will be a nightmare. Hopefully the drive home will be more pleasant.

  12. Having attended an all-boys Secondary School, reading that donuts were to be served — “to be served”, HA! — sent a chill down my spine. The men running before the bulls in Pamplona have a better chance of survival than did some of the smaller students.
    This curry, Charlie, sounds like it has just the right amount of heat for my tastes. Beyond that, using the thighs is sure to kick up the flavor. Served with your rice pilaf and this is a delicious meal and something I could easily prepare. I normally steer clear of Indian curries because I’m leery of the heat and there’s too many ingredients that I’d use once and throw away 6 months later. Not this one! Thanks, Charlie.

  13. Another funny story…love it. And I love any kind of curry, but this one sounds particularly interesting with the bit of peanut butter in it…kind of an African influence. Know it’s tasty!

  14. Your story reminds me of when my son was at boarding school. Once a month the parents organized a dinner for the kids. Each month had a different theme — Italian, Indian, etc. The kids loved getting the home-cooked food and got to try many different things. Many of the students came from Asian and Indian families, so those cuisines were well represented and very well done at the dinners.

  15. Gosh, I can totally visualize he thundering herd descending on the donuts! The poor volunteers! Wonderful mental picture of the whole scene. And such a nice curry you’re sharing, too. I’d spice it up a tad, but that’s me. 😉 Good stuff – thanks.

  16. I don’t think much has changed when it comes to donuts and kids….mine do the same thing and they’re not even at boarding school!

    Great looking curry…I might have to add a tad bit more spice though! The rice is gorgeous too.

    Nazneen xx

  17. Your curry looks delicious but now I kind of want a doughnut!

  18. You’re hilarious!! and I do enjoy a nice curry…curry in a hurry is even better!

  19. I hope they enjoyed the donuts! I think we would have done the same at school borders or not. If there was a special at the tuckshop it was on!

    Curry looks wonderful Charlie in fact I might make it tonight seeing as I have everything in the recipe. Might have to use parsley instead of coriander (someone doesn’t like coriander).

  20. Victoria of Flavors of the Sun says:

    Boys! You have to smile.

    Beautiful photos, Charlie–nice recipe as well.

  21. Lovely story once again Charlie. I’m with Archie in my dislike of too much heat in curries, so this one would probably suit me. I adore your lovely dishes, too – very sweet.

  22. the poor volunteers. I thought everyone knew not to get between a doughnut and a teenager 😉

  23. LOL I would be afraid too!

    MMM Chicken curry is one of my favorite comfort foods, especially when it is homemade. Great recipe!

  24. What a foolish experiment indeed! I thought the whole reason that boys boarding school fare was bland and boring, lacking sugar, spice and protein, was to keep their energy and spirits down naturally 🙂 Offering donuts would have been like showing me dark chocolate while I’m dieting and had PMS….. never a good idea 🙁
    Love the curry though, plenty of flavour, spice and a touch of the exotic- enough to get any teenage boys dander up!

  25. Lol! So funny a story! You have a real knack for telling a story hilariously
    The curry looks so gorgeously rich and creamy too. Yum!

  26. I can just imagine their desperation to not miss out. Boarding school children are a breed all of their own. My sister was one and she still thinks she is missing out.

  27. Oh Charlie, you made me laugh so hard I had an asthma attack. And I was crying and my husband had no idea what to do. I pointed at the screen and it had a recipe. He did not get my reason for laughing so hard. Oh and thanks for the recipe:) I do love curry. LOL

  28. I love the donuts line! So funny.

  29. I might take a few people out for a good donut!! Nom Nom Nom… 😉

  30. The funny thing is that I’ve seen adults go for the doughnuts after church almost with the same gusto as the boys! I guess we all need our sugar from time to time! I love the curry flavors you share, Charlie. The chicken is a wonderful recipe, but I think I would really savor the pilaf. So tasty!

  31. Mmmmm donuts!

    I love a good curry and am looking forward to enjoying this for lunch when the weather gets cooler 🙂

  32. Delicious, Charlie! And I can just imagine all those mad boys stampeding for donuts! Boarders were always so desperately deprived, weren’t they? 🙂

  33. Oh dear. I can so picture that stampede. None of us boarded but my sister and I went to all girls’ schools and my brother to an all boys’ school. His school would have been full of stampeders if donuts were presented, and they were students who (mostly) got to go home in the evenings!

    This looks like the sort of dish to counter Archie’s deprived years 😉

  34. Ha, funny! I can just picture it. 🙂 Your chicken curry looks yummy!

  35. LOL I can only imagine the looks of fear! Those smiles turning into looks of fear and them perhaps flinging the donuts towards the hungry boys and running away 😛

  36. I can’t wait to try this!

  37. Oh I can only imagine such a stampede! I’m glad I wasn’t one of the mothers holding a tray. 🙂 Your chicken curry look delicious and that rice – I could eat a bowl of it by itself. It was a pleasant surprise to see a touch of peanut butter in the curry. I love that as long as you don’t go over board, which you obviously didn’t. Great curry recipe!

  38. You do have a way with words…I have stories that are funny, and I’ve written them, and I tell some on a shared writers’ blog but they aren’t showing up on my food blog…I wonder why?
    Anyway, Love it,Charlie! I can see it all !

  39. hahahahahaha!! Charlie, your stories crack me up. But I can DEFINITELY imagine the scenario. Placing Donuts before starving teen boys is like placing fresh kill in front of a pack of hungry lions. Lol!

    The chicken curry looks and sounds great. Coconut milk is a great addition. But peanut butter….I am not sure. I would go for ground peanut paste instead.

  40. You are so funny, I could not stop laughing…
    Your chicken curry sure does look very tempting, and easy to make…yum!
    Hope you are having a great week Charlie!

  41. My husband must have the taste buds of a school boy…even mild curry is too much for his tender palate :/ Makes cooking a challenge. But when he’s out of town on business, I pull out all the stops and spice things up just for me. Your curry looks perfect. And is an honor to be seated next to you on TS (my submissions usually sit in their queue for days…so I never go back to check!). So fun!

  42. Yum I’ll take chicken curry over donuts any day.


  43. I can’t blame Archie as I don’t eat (or more like I can’t take) much spice. I really wish that I could eat all the delicious looking spicy food but my stomach is not used to it and it doesn’t take it well after I eat it. So not fair. Because of that my kids also don’t get to eat spicy food and it’s been challenging for us to eat at a restaurant where spicy food is very good. 🙁 Your curry looks delicious. I eat “Japanese curry” which is not spicy at all… 🙂 I would love to try this as well.

  44. I used to work at a boarding school and decorum was the order of the day. With that “visual” for reference, your story tickled me greatly. You’re a stitch, Charlie!

  45. back in college, whenever there was an event with free food, this kind of thing typically ensued. It was crazy! And dangerous.

  46. Great looking curry. That tale rings soo many bells, it’s not just hungry boys that can stampede over a donut. I remember well thumping, elbowing and charging just to get at the after match tea. It was so very much better than anything else we were ever served at boarding school, it was important to get there first, with your opponent from the visiting team who had to be equally dragged through the throng. Usually rather bewildered. GG

  47. hilarious story! this curry looks totally delish.

  48. I can picture the doughnut stampede! Fab looking curry – think I hall have to make it minus the peanut butter though.
    Have a super weekend Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  49. Lol. … I can totally picture the whole scene. ..
    Your writing is just wonderful!
    Have a gorgeous weekend.

  50. Aha, it can’t have been Joeys… I went to visit many, many years ago and in the dining hall saw HUGE platters of chocolate doughnuts… honestly as piled as high as they would be at Hogwarts!

    Lovely curry recipe, mine can cope with a bit of mild spice these days, well 50% of them. Clipped to Evernote!!

  51. HAHAHA that’s too funny 🙂 I can just imagine the look on the boys face when they saw the actual donuts ~ The boys make boarding school sound like a prison LOL

    Ohhh great chicken curry recipe ~ glad that Archie is now able to take it 🙂 Mr Bao can’t really take heat either but it’s getting better too 😀 I hope he’ll be able to take even more soon, because I love spicy food!

  52. Hi Charlie … Just wanted to stop by to say hello … I’m tired, but maybe some of your curry will get me going. 😉

  53. Oh Boys! 🙂
    I love your curry, and that you used sunflower oil. Too bad I can’t make any curry at home: we discovered that our teenager has some reaction to it.

  54. Hahaha how funny to think that donuts could cause a stampede like that… mind I bet a big group of food bloggers might be able to put the boys to shame haha. Btw that curry looks amaaazing! Definitely going to give it a try, thanks for sharing the recipe!

  55. Well I think I might stampede for a doughnut if I went to boarding school. I love the vision of it as only you can describe dear Charlie. lovely pictures

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