chilli chicken (it’s all happening on hercule)

cookery chat with david & sandra biddle

6: chilli chicken

The months just fly by when you are having fun, and that’s just what we have been doing as we have been getting used to our new boat. Moving to a smaller 41ft boat I thought it would have been an easy challenge, but how wrong could I be. Our old beast of a boat was a 58ft heavy and solid Dutch Barge style narrow boat and you basically pointed her in the direction she wanted to go and she went – rain or shine, windy or calm. This new boat ‘Hercule’ is another matter altogether, being built of aluminium she is much lighter and with a good breeze she does move around a bit to say the least. A matchbox (if you can remember these) in a bathtub being blown comes to mind. Last weekend was fine until I was reversing (not the easiest thing to do on a narrow boat anyway) into our mooring. Goodness me would she get in there. Finally on the fifth attempt and with maximum use of the bow thrusters she slipped into place. Paddy a fellow moorer couldn’t wait to pop over and have a laugh about it!!

NB HerculeOther than this problem, she is perfectly formed and already we are getting used to the smaller boat. Someone once said that on a well designed boat you don’t need lots of room and I must admit they were right. Everything is to hand and now that we have had installed a new inverter, solar panels and a new battery bank of three 130ah batteries she is ready for some cruising.

Unlike last year we have decided not to winterise ‘Hercule’ and make maximum use of her (most weekends at least) through the winter. Of course we will leave a heating source on board and drain the pipes of water when the frosty times come – but I’m sure we will be very cosy.

Narrowboat HerculeA smaller boat has come at a price regarding food storage and we have both had to scale down what we can carry on board. So far we have the basics but over the next few weeks we are seriously going to look at the boats larder of food stocks necessary to allow us to cook quality food. Fortunately the main chef (as she is a fully qualified chef and x teacher of food I feel it necessary to give her the title) is already building up a short list of essentials and is preparing for a ‘big shop’ this coming Saturday. However, there will be some changes not having the luxury of a full size freezer or the bags of storage cupboard and drawer space we used to enjoy. Watch this space to see how successful we are in managing this process.

Narrowboat HerculeAnother major influence to our future eating habits on board is me!

Three years ago our only child Emily got married to Elliott, in preparation to this I finally decided to tackle my weight issue (issue to everyone else I might add – never been one to me!). I went on a strict diet and lost three stones in weight (as we are leaving the EU I feel less guilty not using metric!!). As with all diets they don’t work 90%+ of people who attempt them revert back to bad habits and put more weight on! Although I didn’t put a lot of weight back on, it did start to creep back.

In January, I decided to join a Slimming Club with a healthy eating and therapeutic ethos. This has been ground breaking for me, I have realised that I am an emotional eater and now I know that I can reflect on before early retirement having one of the most stressful jobs (running a group of schools for children with Social, emotional and behavioural difficulties –SEBD) that eating was the way I coped with this. I am now learning to live without using food as my stress beater. No easy thing to do, especially as I have done this for most of my adult life.

I am now half way through my journey and moving toward the 4th stone weight loss. I feel a lot better – but the main advantage has been learning to enjoy healthier cooking by changing ingredients to alternatives that have less calorie values.

Our wine stocks are still there – but are not being replenished as quickly as they used to. Our tipple is now gin or vodka with no sugar mixers.

Fingers crossed I carry on being successful – slowly does it, as its a life change not a quick fix I’m looking for.

This month’s menu has been developed to take into account the healthy choice we have made by not using a lot of oils and fats – but still being really tasty. I have this with an additional tin of diced tomatoes to make the gravy go further served with a bowl of basmati rice. If I feel naughty – half a Naan bread as well!! Hope you enjoy the slimmers delight.

Chilli chicken

  • Chicken(pieces) - 250 grams.
  • Lemon juice - 1 tea spoon.
  • 4 - 6 sprays of Frylight or 2 tsp oil
  • Red chillies - 5-6 numbers.
  • Onions(chopped) - 1 cup.
  • Crystal salt - to taste.
  • Red chilly powder - 1 tablespoon.
  • Coriander powder - 1/2 tablespoon.
  • Coriander leaves(optional) - 1 tablespoon.
  • Curry leaves - 1 spring.
  • Lime juice or lemon juice - 1 tea spoon.


  1. Brine chicken with little lemon juice, salt, water overnight.
  2. Take a pan and spray oil over red chillies and cook it, later add onions, little crystal salt, curry leaves, and sauté it. Add little water if too dry
  3. To it, add red chilli powder, coriander powder and sauté it.
  4. Add chicken and mix nicely, cook it for 15 -20 minutes on slow flame with lid on it, frequently sauté it for every 3-4 minutes.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, add coriander leaves, squeeze lime juice and mix nicely.