Monday, December 26, 2011

Recipe: Spicy Coconut Chicken Curry

Human beings do not eat nutrients, they eat food. – Mary Catherine Bateson 

Spice, coconut and garlic flavours.
Is curry a traditional Boxing Day dinner? Probably not in North America, but this is what it was in our kitchen none the less.

This recipe does not use a prepared curry powder but a mix of traditional curry ingredients that, if desired, you can balance as you wish for your own custom curries. Don’t be afraid. All the ingredients are very easy to obtain and once you make your own curry mix you’ll be through with prepared curry powders.

You have to lightly fry the spices to activate their flavours.
The basic heat is delivered through cayenne. In the recipe I have listed 1.5 teaspoons. When I made the spice mix I added in 2 full teaspoons. It made for a fairly fiery curry. If that’s your thing, feel free. I backed off the amount for those with more delicate constitutions.

Frying the onions and garlic very slowly is important. Too high a heat will burn the onions and garlic. Burnt garlic tastes very bitter and will be very noticeable. Since garlic is in abundance in this you may as well slow down and do it right.

Coconut in curry is mostly associated with Thailand, but it is quite common in Southern Indian dishes. The coconut cream sweetens, thickens and rounds out this curry sauce with a full, rich taste. 

Note, this recipe uses coconut cream which is a thicker product than coconut milk. You can substitute coconut milk if you wish but your sauce will be thinner.

The taste of this curry was hot, and a little sweet due to the coconut cream. If you’re afraid of the heat perhaps serve a cooling side dish like a raita, or any other that has yogurt as a main ingredient.

Spicy Coconut Chicken Curry
The chicken finishes cooking in the sauce.
Prep: 10 min | Cook: 50 min | Serves 4
8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in 
1 medium onion 
3 tbsp garlic, chopped
3 tsp ground ginger
1-1/2 tsp cayenne 
2 tsp cumin seed 
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 can (19 fl oz/560 lm) coconut cream
1/2 cup tomato purée (1 small can)
1 tsp salt
optional, 1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup basmati rice 
2 cups water 

Place the chicken thighs in a large low saucepan. Season with salt and pepper and fry both sides until golden but not completely cooked, about 10-15. This will depend on the size of your chicken thighs.

Remove the thighs to a plate and drain off all but 2 tbsps of the collected chicken fat.
Peel and halve the onions. Then take each half and cut from top to bottom to make long slices. Add the onions and chopped garlic to the pan and cook on medium low until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. 

Mix together the dried spices. Add them to the onions and let cook for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant.

Stir in the coconut cream. Mix well. Then add in the tomato purée and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back into the pot. Reduce the heat to simmer and let cook while you make the rice. Stir the sauce occasionally.

The rice will take about 25 minutes in total.

Bring the salt and water to a boil. Add the basmati, stir and cover. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook for 15 minutes. After the water has been absorbed, remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. If desired add a tablespoon of lemon juice for a little extra kick.

Serve the chicken and sauce beside the rice.


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