Chicken Curry, with Fresh Mango or Pearl Onions

Garam Masala, a curry blend

Garam Masala, a curry blend

By Cat, May 2009 (Photo right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Ever since my 20s when I was first on my own, I have loved curry dishes. My introduction to curry dishes as a main course was The Vegetarian Epicure, Books 1 and 2, by Anna Thomas, and The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Epse Brown (see Beloved Cookbooks for more detail). but even as a kid, my Mom used to add curry powder to Uncle Ben’s rice to give it some flavor, and I loved that too.

In my mid-20s, a new type of Chinese restaurant opened in Portland where I was living. You would not find Chow Mein or Egg Foo Yung on their menu. These restaurants took pride in calling themselves ‘authentic Chinese’ or ‘Sichuan’ (Schezuan or Schezwan). Along with pot stickers and sizzling rice, one could find wonderful curries on their menus.

I bought a wok, a wok cookbook, and learned how to make many of these wonderful dishes. But curry is not just Chinese. It is common all across Southern and Southeast Asia.

Curry dishes are an excellent way to incorporate herbs and spices into your regular diet, for all the health benefits they bring, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and other benefits. See Ancient Medicine through Food, Herbs & Spices: CurriesSpices A – F and Spices G – Z for more.

Chicken Curry with Fresh Mango

This recipe is adapted from the May 27, 2009 issue of the Daily Inter Lake, originally from the Washington Post, by Bonnie S. Benwick (1).  Serves 4.

I like to serve over steamed brown or white basmati rice. If using brown rice, start rice before brining chicken, as the rice takes almost an hour to cook.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 2 small, or 1 large chicken breast halves (1 ¼ – 1 ½ pounds)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 ½” piece peeled ginger root
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 2 mangoes
  • 2 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil, peanut oil, or coconut oil; or ghee
  • 1 Tbsp yellow or red curry powder, or ½ Tbsp yellow or red curry paste
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ¼ cups filtered water
  • Unrefined sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup dried apricots
  • cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • additional apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • Rapadura sugar (optional)
  • 1 fresh lime
  • Equipment: large cast iron skillet or wok
  • blender

 

Method:

  1. Prep: Brine breasts in a salt brine for 30 minutes.  Remove from brine, rinse and drain.  Set aside, or refrigerate if not using right away.
  2. Remove bones and skin from brined breasts (reserve bones for making chicken stock another time).  Cut meat into bite size pieces and season with pepper.
  3. Coarsely chop onion for about 2 cups.  Peal and mince ginger, about 2 Tbsp; mince garlic, about 2 ½ teaspoons, and add to minced ginger. Set aside.
  4. Peel mangos and cut flesh into 1-inch pieces, about 2 ½ cups.
  5. Coarsely chop dried apricots. Coarsely chop cilantro leaves. Set both aside, separately, for garnish.
  6. Cook: Heat 1 Tbsp oil or ghee in skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.  Add remaining oil, curry powder/paste and cumin.  Cook, stirring once or twice, about 2 minutes until fragrant.  Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring.
  7. Add vinegar, water and ½ cup of mango pieces to skillet; stir to incorporate. Increase heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil, then reduce to medium-low.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and transfer to blender.  Let cool a bit.
  8. Remove center knob from blender lid, and place a clean dish towel over the top.  Puree the mixture until almost smooth, then return to skillet and place over medium heat.  Add chicken pieces and stir to coat evenly;  cover and cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add remaining mango pieces and coconut milk.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook uncovered 1 – 2 minutes.  Taste and add vinegar or a pinch of sugar, as needed.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  • Scoop steamed brown rice onto 4 individual soup bowls.  Spoon chicken curry over the rice and garnish with chopped cilantro and wedges of fresh lime.  Serve hot.

Chicken Curry with Pearl Onions

This delicious recipe, adapted from a bag of dried H-Brand Pearl Onions (2), serves 4.  The original uses a commercial curry blend, but you can certainly use your own curry blend.  My favorite is Garam Masala; I use all my favorite “C” spices to make it:  Cayenne, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin.  Sometimes I add turmeric and crushed bay leaves.  Caraway can also be added.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Baked chicken pieces, using 4 brined breast halves. After baking, remove meat from bones; reserve bones for a batch of chicken stock; retain or toss/compost skins.
  • 6 oz dry pearl onions or frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (or Garam Masala
  • 8 oz homemade tomato sauce, or commercial canned tomato sauce (I prefer Muir Glen brand)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine, such as vermouth
  • ½ tsp Thai red chili paste
  • 2 or more cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, or ghee
  • Unrefined sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  • cast iron skillet or wok

Method:

  1. Prepare baked chicken meat (Brine breasts 30 minutes in refrigerator. Remove from brine, rinse off and pat dry. Bake in 325F oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours until tender. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones, reserving bones for future stock; you can also remove the skin if your prefer.)
  2. Peel papery outer skins from dry pearl onions; cut each in half; set aside.
  3. Warm oil or ghee in skillet/wok; saute onions over low heat until translucent, adding red chili paste, garlic and curry toward the end of the cooking time.
  4. Add chicken meat to pan; stir in tomato sauce and wine.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve with steamed brown or white basmati rice.

References:

  1. Daily Inter Lake recipe from May 27, 2009 issue; originally from the Washington Post, by Bonnie S. Benwick
  2. H-Brand dried Pearl Onions from my local grocer

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