January 19, 2010

curry, friends, and talking heads

I just got back from a last minute trip to visit my best friend Julia in Alabama. So nice! It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Julia and I could be trapped in a cave in Afghanistan and we'd still have a ridiculously good time together. Luckily, we weren't in a cave; we were chez Julia and John and we had all sorts of things to keep us pleasantly occupied, like talking, knitting, Rock Band, and cooking. I still have Talking Heads/Psycho Killer running through my head...

(Mark really missed out. We were planning a trip to Dallas but then work intervened. He is extremely busy right now.)

Julia and I made this Goan-style curry for dinner on Sunday, using chicken, yellow Dutch potatoes, carrots, and green beans. Think of this dish as slightly exotic comfort food: fragrant, warming, colorful, and lots of pleasing layers of flavor and textures.

Thanks for hosting me, J & J! Love you guys.

Goan style chicken and vegetable curry

This recipe calls for curry powder so, while it may not be strictly authentic, it is easy and quick to make. I kind of want to say Basmati rice is a must here, but I'm a rice snob so feel free to ignore me. Just do yourself a favor and start a pot of rice before anything else.
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 15-20 tiny yellow Dutch potatoes (about 3/4 to 1 lb), cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 lb French green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 large carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus extra if you like it spicy
  • 1/4 cup canola/grapeseed oil
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 cups canned chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Place cut chicken in a small bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Mix well and set in the refrigerator until later.

2. Place a pot of water on the stove to boil over medium-high heat. One vegetable at a time, parboil or steam the vegetables until just tender. You want to make sure the vegetables are cooked through, but not mushy. You can use the same pot for all the vegetables: as the potatoes finish cooking, use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes to a separate bowl. Repeat for the carrots and then the green beans.

3. In an enameled cast iron pot or similar vessel over medium heat, combine oil and chilies and stir 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and cook for 1 minute longer. Add ginger, onion, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt and sauté until onion is soft and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, ground coriander and turmeric and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes. Stir, scraping sides and bottom of pot, for 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Stir in curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, bring to a boil, and add chicken. Simmer steadily until chicken is cooked through completely. Add all vegetables. Garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 6 generous servings.