A BIRD IN THE HAND - DIANA HENRY

It's rare that a cookbook author can focus on one ingredient and get it right, but Diana has done just that. She has taken an ingredient staple to most countries and created an exciting book with reliably succinct methods and recipes, married with her signature, devourable prose.

I made the 'turkish-spiced chicken with hot green relish' for a weekend lunch. The fact that I made it again the next day, says it all. 

The photography - by Laura Edwards - is just lovely. She and food stylist Joss Herd have captured the essence of the recipes clearly and without pretence.  

This is a book to use for years to come. 


Turkish-Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish 

Ingredients - serves 4-6 

For the Chicken

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs

For the Relish

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Sea salt flakes
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 red chilli
  • 15g coriander, roughly chopped
  • Leaves from 8 sprigs of mint, torn
  • 70g pitted green olives,roughly chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • good squeeze of lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve

To marinate the chicken, mix the regular oil, cinnamon,cayenne, cumin, garlic and salt and pepper together to make a marinade. Make little slits all over the underside of the pieces of chicken with the point of a knife. Put the chicken into a dish and pour the marinade over, turning to coat. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge. Leave it there for a couple of hours,or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Make the relish just before you cook the chicken. Put the garlic and salt into a mortar and bash it with a pestle until it is crushed. Halve and deseed both chillies and chop them roughly. Add them to the mortar with the coriander, mint and olives and bash everything together, gradually adding the virgin oil and balsamic until you have a rough paste (it should be chunky, not puréed). Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.

Heat a griddle. Lift the chicken out of the marinade, shaking off the excess, and cook it. Start off on a medium heat, cooking the chicken for about two minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another four minutes. The chicken should be cooked right through and singed, but not burnt.

Serve the chicken with lemon wedges, rice or flatbread, a bowl of Greek yogurt and the relish. Cucumber and green salad are good, too.

A Bird in The Hand by Diana Henry, published by Mitchell Beazley, £20 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk)