Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yesterday, I found myself perusing my pantry for inspiration.

I hadn’t cooked in more than a week (except for pancakes and speck over the weekend). I finally had the time and was ready to spend it in my kitchen.

I spotted a can of coconut milk. The label is in Turkish and English but says it’s a product of Thailand. Interesting! I immediately thought of making a recipe of coconut chicken curry.
I knew I also had a new package of brightly-colored orange curry powder I had bought at the Mısır Çarşısı (Egyptian Bazaar) here in Istanbul. I can easily spend a few hours at the bazaar entranced by all the fragrant mounds of spices. Curry blends vary from brand to brand but usually include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, red pepper and other spices.
Turkish curry powder pictured in a small bowl I bought at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
Often, when I’ve made this dish in the past, I simply stir-fry a ton of veggies with chicken and then add curry powder or paste, coconut milk and maybe some canned tomatoes. An easy one-pot meal!

But this time, I researched a little bit online for some more inspiration. I stumbled upon a food blog called The Spice Spoon. Although fellow food blogger Shayma didn’t have exactly what I was looking for, I bookmarked the site for future reference. Her website includes a great list of spicy recipes with Middle Eastern flair.

Later, I bought a ton of veggies at the pazar and started chopping and slicing away. Perhaps I went a bit overboard, but now we have plenty of leftovers for at least two more meals.

The dish was bursting with flavor and color. It was exactly what I was looking for after my hiatus from the kitchen.

Afiyet Olsun!

Joy’s Coconut Chicken Curry
Serves 6 to 8 people

2          T.         vegetable oil
3          T.         favorite curry powder
1          lg.        yellow onion, medium diced
1          kilo      (approx. 2 lbs.) boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into ½”-cubes
6-8       cloves  garlic, chopped small
1          400 g.  can of coconut milk
1          400 g.  can of diced tomatoes
½         can       water
8          T.         (or more) tomato paste
2-3       T.         granulated sugar
TT                    salt and pepper

1. In a 6-8 quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry powder and cook for at least 5 minutes. (I read online this is supposed to infuse the oil with a more intense flavor.)
2. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
3. Add the chicken and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside.
4. Then, stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, water, tomato paste and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low-medium. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. If you’d like a thicker sauce, add a bit more tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes.

* Note: Towards the end of the cooking time, I added a generous pinch of Turkish pul biber (hot red pepper flakes). Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or favorite ground hot pepper to kick up the heat.

In a second pot:
Heat the oil, add the vegetables below. Sauté’ just until the vegetables are al dente. Set aside.
1          T.         vegetable oil
2          ea.        kabak or zucchini, sliced about ¼”-thick
2          ea.        red peppers, julienne sliced
2          ea.        carrots, julienne sliced
2          c.         (approx.) broccoli florets
TT                    salt and pepper

When the chicken is nearly finished cooking, add the vegetables and cook just to reheat them. I cooked these separately this time to retain a “crispier” vegetable.

Serve the curried chicken and vegetables over your favorite rice pilaf or basmati rice. Garnish with chopped chives or cilantro leaves.

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Ali said...
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