Cook Dorset With Lesley Waters - Hot Chicken Tikka

As the days draw out, this month's recipe is inspired by the fresh young vegetables that are now coming into season.

Peas, beans and new potatoes combine to create a hot potato and vegetable salad with a zingy mint dressing that's just bursting with sunny flavours. All this is topped with gently spiced chicken 'pan-fried' in a hot oven and is great for informal entertaining or a stress-free supper. The chicken also makes a lovely lunch served on crisp, dressed, mixed salad leaves. If, like my lot, you like a bit of 'heat', simply add an extra chilli to the tikka paste and spice it up to taste. But, either way, a dish of natural yoghurt is a must to complete this summery platter.

Hot Chicken Tikka

Serves 4

4 medium chicken breasts, each breast cut lengthways into 3 (or in 2 if the breasts are very small)

Juice 1 lemon

500g baby new potatoes, parboiled for 12 minutes

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5 tbsp olive oil

250g baby plum tomatoes

3 tbsp chopped fresh mint

110g sugar snap peas, blanched for 4-5 minutes and refreshed, and cut vertically in half

250g fine green beans, trimmed, blanched for 4-5 minutes and refreshed

Natural yoghurt to serve

For the tikka paste:

4 tbsp sunflower oil

1 large shallot, roughly chopped

5cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

4 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste

1 large red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp desiccated coconut

Method

1 For the tikka paste, place 3 tablespoons sunflower oil and the remaining paste ingredients in a small food processor and whiz together to form a thick paste.

2 Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and squeeze over the juice of 1/2 lemon. Add the tikka paste, stir to coat the chicken and set to one side.

3 Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

4 Place the parboiled potatoes in a roasting tin and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until browned and starting to crisp.

5 Meanwhile, place a large, heavy-based pan in the oven to get very hot (this will take at least 10 minutes).

6 Remove the roasting tin from the oven and, using a large metal spoon, push the browned potatoes to one end of the tin. Add the tomatoes to the empty half, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season. Return the tin to the oven for 15 minutes until the tomatoes are just soft.

7 Place the chicken pieces in the hot, heavy-based pan and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, toss the chicken around the pan, drizzle with a little sunflower oil and return to the oven for a further 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is charred and cooked.

8 Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, squeezed lemon and the chopped mint.

9 To serve, add the potatoes, sugar snaps and beans to the mint dressing and toss together well. Add the tomatoes and very gently combine. Pile some salad into the centre of each serving plate and top each pile with three pieces of chicken tikka. Serve at once and hand the yoghurt separately.

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