Chicken, lemon & spinach balti recipe image

Print Chicken, lemon & spinach balti

This healthy curry has a really light, lemony flavour. We like quite a bit of lemon juice for a real citrus hit, but adjust to suit your taste.


  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Piece ginger
  • 1 fresh chilli
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 2 lemons
  • 150g brown basmati rice
  • Oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 300g diced chicken breast
  • Balti spice pot containing:
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground
  • Coriander
  • 2 good handfuls baby spinach
  • 30g fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the rice. Peel and finely slice the onion. Peel and finely chop, grate or crush 2 garlic cloves. Peel and finely grate enough ginger so you have 1 tablespoon worth (see cook’s note).
  2. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Lightly bash the cardamom pods with the flat of your knife, so the pods slightly split. Squeeze the lemons, keeping the juice in a small bowl or mug (see cook’s note). Rinse the rice in a sieve. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the chicken. Fry on a high heat, turning now and then, until golden brown (don’t overcrowd the pan, cook in batches if you need to). Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  4. Add the rice to the pan of boiling water. It will take 20-25 minutes to cook. Add the onion to the pan you cooked the chicken in, with a splash more oil. Fry gently for 8 minutes, stirring often. After 8 minutes, add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the onion. Stir for 1 minute.
  5. Add the balti spice pot and cardamom pods. Fry for 1 minute. Put the chicken back in the pan, with the cardamom pods and half the squeezed lemon juice. Add 200ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (no pink juices remain, test by cutting one open).
  6. While the chicken cooks, wash the spinach. Wash the coriander, shake dry, then roughly chop the leaves. When the chicken is just cooked through, add the spinach and stir for 1-2 minutes, until just wilted in. Taste the rice to check it is tender, then drain (NB brown rice still has quite a bite to it when cooked).
  7. Check the curry for seasoning, adding more lemon juice to taste if you like. Stir in the coriander leaves. Serve with the rice and a dollop of yoghurt.

Cooks notes

To get the most juice from your lemons use them at room temperature, rather than straight from the fridge. Before squeezing, roll the lemons on a work surface, pressing them down with the palm of your hands as you roll, to release more juice. When peeling ginger, use a teaspoon to scrape the skin off the ginger; it’s easy and avoids wastage. Cheaper, sharp-edged teaspoons work better than posh cutlery for this.
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