June 7, 2012

Chicken Curry

As I've reiterated over the last three or four posts, I don't mind eating vegetarian.  Wife, although not the biggest fan of vegetables in the past, has been so dedicated to getting into shape that meatless meals were easy to commit to.  In the end, it was the children who were the most resistant to eating dinner without meat, so when Lotus and her son left our house the last week of May, I wasn't surprised when Boy requested meat be on the menu.  However, I was surprised when he asked for curry.

Curry was a staple of our menus when Lotus was living with us; we made it two to three times a month, and there were always leftovers.  But Boy had fallen in love with the dish, and he wanted to see how it would taste without the presence of his dreaded nemesis, tofu.  More specifically, he wanted to try it with chicken, a request I was more than happy to oblige. 

When Lotus was staying with us, she would make the curry most times, and when she didn't it was Wife who prepared the dish.  I watched from afar, but it was something I was happy to leave to them.  Having house guests meant that I tended to stay up late each morning, and dinner had to be underway by a certain time, whether I was awake or not.  This meant that I only had a partial idea of how they had been making the meal, but I didn't mind.  I was looking to play around and see if I could come up with something a little more pungent.  In the end, four Internet recipes, my observations at home, and my imagination led me to this delicious result.

Roughly chop two potatoes and two sweet potatoes and put them into a microwave safe bowl along with 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in the microwave for seven and a half minutes.  This will cook the potatoes, but only partially, allowing them to finish in the curry sauce without taking forever.  After they are done, set the potatoes aside but reserve the cooking liquid.
This makes cooking potatoes so much less time consuming.
 While the potatoes are cooking, chop four chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, and toss with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and cayenne pepper, and 2 tablespoons of curry powder.

Next, bring two pans to medium heat.  In the first, saute a large onion and half a head of red cabbage in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they begin to soften and become the same color, about five minutes.   In the second, quickly brown the chicken and remove to a plate.
World's lamest drug dealer?  No, I just prepared my spices ahead of time.
 Add five cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of minced ginger, 1/4 cup of curry powder, and 2 teaspoons of paprika plus salt to taste to the onion mixture and cook for another three minutes.  Once the spices are fully integrated, add the softened potatoes and one pound of green beans, cleaned and broken into half inch pieces and cook five minutes more.  Into this vegetable medley, add 2 cups of fat-free plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons of  no-salt tomato paste,  3/4 of a cup of  lite coconut milk, the browned chicken breast, and the reserved chicken broth.  Stir well to dissolve the tomato paste and yogurt as it comes to a boil, then reduce everything to a simmer for twenty-five minutes.
It's easier to mix the liquids outside the pot.  I was almost tempted to drink it, though.
 While the flavors are melding and the smell is bonding to everything in your house, prepare whatever (if anything) you intend to put the curry on top of.  We used to use rice, but have begun substituting quinoa for additional nutritional benefits. Unless you are making brown rice, your grain should be finishing just as the curry is ready for your attention one final time.

Add the juice of one lemon and a tablespoon of chili garlic paste (have you realized that I absolutely love this stuff?) to the simmering pot and let it cook an additional five minutes, then serve topped with shredded basil.
 That's it.  It isn't a hard dish to make, it's healthy, and more importantly it makes your house smell fabulous.  While Boy loved this chicken version, I imagine it would still taste great if you used vegetable broth and put the tofu back in instead.  Just add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the browning spices and toss onto two packages of tofu, chop them into bite-sized cubes, and add them halfway through the simmering time instead of cooking them for twenty five minutes so that their texture holds up.  Mine turned out pretty fantastic, and I am looking forward to experimenting with it further.

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