I’m not a big fan of chocolate, but I had a half cup of cocoa taking up space in the cupboard, so I looked around to see if anyone ever made a cocoa muffin, because I wanted something lower on the scale of desserts—not too sweet and with a substantial texture somewhere between cake and bread. I also had some unsweetened shredded coconut taking up its own space, so I looked for coconut streusel recipes and added chopped walnuts—yes, a half cup of walnuts were sitting in the fridge staring at me. So this was pretty much a recipe to help clear up space in the kitchen.
I haven’t made a curry in a long while, but when I picked up coconut milk for the 4th of July coconut cream pie, I accidentally picked up one can of the lite version with one can of the regular—who would use light coconut milk? Ended up going to a different store for the Goya® brand I wanted, so I bought two, which left me with two cans, one regular and one light. Hence, the curry.
My Chicken Coconut Curry is a version of this recipe—http://allrecipes.com/recipe/indian-chicken-curry-ii/—but I’m iffy on the yogurt and lemon as being too tangy, and I would like more vegetables in the curry, maybe snow peas. Let’s see what looks good at the grocery store.
Snow peas it is! I made a number of other changes to the recipe including adding garam masala, instead of the called-for cinnamon, along with the regular curry powder and cooking the dish in layers. Cooking in layers instead of throwing everything together at once, is probably a change I am most likely to make to recipes that I adapt. I like building flavors separately before combining them in the final step.
Other than my changes to the ingredients list, the browning of the chicken makes the biggest change. The recipe calls for dumping everything, raw chicken and all, into the sauce, and I don’t really like the image of the gray chicken that would result. Maybe I’m not a curry purist, but browned chicken adds much more flavor, including from the browned bits in the bottom of the pan, in which the onions are cooked. This step, plus the addition of chicken stock instead of yogurt, might make the sauce lean toward being more of a gravy, but we loved it.
Chicken Coconut Curry
4-6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small onions, small dice
3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1.5 tablespoons regular curry (hotter if you like that)
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon paprika (mine was smoked)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 13 oz. can coconut milk, unsweetened
1-3 cups chicken broth or bouillon—I used Better Than Bouillon® chicken base, using two cups for the rice and one for the curry
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half-inch cubes
1.5-2 cups whole snow peas, cleaned with any strings removed
Rice—I had arborio and made it in a rice cooker
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but most of them are spices and aromatics. The dish goes together more quickly than you might think. These initial preparation steps might take 15 minutes:
- Begin the rice—mine cooked in less than 30 minutes, but you should plan for your type of rice and method of cooking
- Dice and grate the aromatics
- Mix the spices and seasonings together
- Clean the snow peas and set aside
- Brown the chicken in 4 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside—do not overcook, as the chicken will be added to the sauce for another 10-15 minutes
In the pan where you browned the chicken, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, then add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, bay leaf, and spices. Stir over heat for a minute or two to release spice oils and distribute the tomato paste. Add coconut milk and 1 cup of chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the browned chicken to the sauce, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Confession: I thickened the sauce after adding the chicken with a little cornstarch/water mixture. This is probably not a traditional curry step (I don’t know), but I liked the result.
Sprinkle the snow peas over all, cover and simmer for about 5 more minutes or until snow peas are crisp tender. I add these last to avoid overcooking the snow peas.
Serve over rice. *The recipe would serve four if my husband is not one of them and allowed to fill his own plate.
Update 2/6/14: I made this again yesterday with a few changes:
- For the chicken broth, I substituted 1 cup of sour cream. That meant I did not have to thicken the sauce, and it added a nice creaminess.
- I added one thinly sliced carrot to the onion-garlic step. The carrot adds both color and sweetness. I omitted the snow peas.
- I substituted one thinly sliced leek for one of the onions, mainly because I bought too many leeks the other day, but it was a good addition.