Thursday, 9 April 2015

Thai Coconut Chicken with Rice

Thai Coconut Chicken with Rice

A Thai curry has a very different set of flavours than an Indian curry, and it makes a nice change once in a while.  It has a sweeter taste, more fragrant and floral.  I should warn you that the Thai green curry paste is firecracker hot, so if you’re the mild type, add less than what I’ve described, and maybe leave out the Serrano pepper.  

Beside the fabulous flavours, a good reason for making this recipe is the easiness and speed of it.  Your dinner for four can be ready in about forty-five minutes.

Go carefully if you haven't used this before.  It's hot!
The chicken
1 tablespoon coconut oil             
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 stalk lemongrass
1” length of ginger or galangal, sliced into matchsticks
1 lime, juice and zest
1 red onion, sliced into 1” pieces
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon green Thai curry paste
12 chicken thighs, skinned and boned
¼ cup coconut milk powder
10 asparagus stalks, cut into 2” lengths
1 Serrano pepper, sliced
1 sweet red pepper, sliced into 1” pieces
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper  

The Rice
1 ½ cups white rice, basmati or jasmine
3 cups water
½  teaspoon salt (or more if you’re a salt hound)
2 tablespoons coconut milk powder

In a large frying pan, heat the oil to medium high.  Add the mustard seed, cinnamon, ginger or galangal and lemongrass. (I will confess I didn’t have lemongrass, but wished I did.  More on what else I wished I had, later.)  

Let cook a few moments, till the mustard seed splutters and turns grey.  Add the onion, and turn to medium.  Cook for about ten minutes, till some of the onion is golden.  Add the mushrooms, and cook till some get a bit golden.  This dish doesn’t need to get dark, so don’t worry too much about caramelizing the onion or mushrooms, just a bit of browning is good for flavour.

Onion pieces can be quite large.
Stir in the curry paste and chicken thighs.  Sprinkle in the lime zest, but set the juice aside for now. Crank the heat up to high, and watch carefully.  Stir the chicken around as it gets a bit golden here and there.  It doesn’t need to get dark, though.  Stir in the coconut milk powder and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Continue to cook on medium low heat till you’re almost ready to serve it.

I like the powder over canned coconut milk because it’s easier to control the liquid.  The chicken and mushrooms will release a fair bit of water.  The coconut powder will make a nice gravy.  If it gets too thick, add a bit of water.  If it gets too thin, add more coconut powder.  This wonderful stuff puts you in charge.  If you added canned coconut milk, you’d lose control and the recipe would get soupy. 

Meanwhile, put on the rice.  Add rice (basmati or jasmine) to a pot with a good lid.  Add water, salt and coconut powder. Put on high heat till it begins to boil, then cover and put on low heat.  Let cook twenty minutes, which is when the chicken will be cooked and tender.

Five minutes of cooking these vegetables will keep them bright.
In the last ten minutes of cooking time, add the asparagus stems. (Not the tips.)  In the last five minutes of cooking time, add the sliced peppers and asparagus tips.  Just before plating, remove from heat and stir some of the lime juice into the chicken and taste.  Add salt, pepper and more lime juice if you like.  Remove the cinnamon and lemongrass. 

If I had Thai basil on hand, I would surely stir in the chopped leaves at the same time as the lime juice, but alas, I didn’t think far enough ahead to acquire it.  If I had organic flower blossoms lying around, I’d embellish this dish with some of those.  If I’d had jasmine rice, I might have used that, but I do love the basmati, so there you go.  This recipe is delicious, even the stripped down version made with the ingredients I happened to have on hand.  Please try it and let me know what you think.

All it needs is an organic orchid flower, right?  


  1. This looks marvellous! Why would you use coconut milk powder instead of a can of coconut milk? Also, where do you buy coconut milk powder in Calgary?

  2. Hi Lori,

    Thanks for reading my blog! Coconut milk powder is great because you can control the amount of liquid in the dish. I often find that using coconut milk makes the dish way too runny, and when I want a thick gravy, I have to reduce the canned coconut milk till the other ingredients are over cooked. The powder puts you in charge of the texture. You can always add a little water if you get it too thick. (The powder is every bit as delicious as the canned stuff.)

    Magi brand of coconut powder (dried coconut milk) is available usually at Co-op, and at some Indian groceries. It can be tricky to find, so when I come across it, I buy three boxes. It keeps/