Chicken coconut milk curry with turmeric cardamom rice

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I’m in a serious rut. I’m trying my best to get out of it, and I’m hoping that since winter is looming and inevitably it will be time to switch from fruit salads and grilled meats to stews, soups and ragouts, I’ll finally be able to. This recipe has been my go-to for the last few weeks. It’s easy and I like it and most of all Jérôme can’t get enough of it. He requests it nearly every time we’ve got chicken to cook, and for now I’m not complaining. I’ve made several variations (with or without bell peppers, flakes of coconut, etc.) and they’re always great, a nice, fairly quick weeknight dinner.

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My usual take on Indian food is a chicken korma that I’ve made dozens of times. This is the specific dish that was requested last week but for some reason, I decided to try something new. I had a bell pepper and some newly acquired garam masala. I knew it would be full of coconut milk but wanted some more in-depth flavor… I think I basically melded Indian and Thai cooking with the addition of peanut butter and dreamed this recipe up from different dishes I’ve had in restaurants over the years. The result was incredibly rich and flavorful, and went perfectly with the fairly-neutral cardamom and turmeric rice pilaf that I made along with it.

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Chicken coconut milk curry with turmeric cardamom rice

Ingredients (serves 4):
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 T olive oil
1-2 onions, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
2-3 T garam masala
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t curry powder
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t hot pepper flakes
1 t turmeric
Salt
1 can coconut milk
2 T peanut butter
2 green bell peppers (optional)
1/4 C shredded coconut (optional)
A bit of heavy cream (optional)

1 1/2 C basmati rice
1 T olive oil
2 1/4 C water
1 small onion, finely diced
1 t turmeric
A dozen cardamom pods
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400°. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large, deep pan. Once hot, add the chicken and let brown for 3-5 minutes before adding the onions, garlic and spices. Let the spices cook in the hot pan for another 3-5 minutes before adding your bell peppers and coconut flakes, if using, and coconut milk. Mix to combine and reduce heat to low. Let the mixture simmer while you cook the rice, adding a bit of water if needed (the coconut milk will reduce and thicken rapidly).

In a large oven-safe pan with a lid, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and let cook, stirring constantly, until softened. Add your rice and continue to stir until it becomes translucent. Add the measured water, salt and turmeric and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the cardamom pods, cover and cook in the oven for 13 minutes.

Remove the rice and taste to make sure it’s done. Leave the lid on for 3-5 minutes longer so the rice can continue to plump. Add a bit of heavy cream to finish off your curry sauce, or serve as-is. Stir a tablespoon of butter into the rice just before serving.

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