Thursday, 19 January 2012

Healthy Coconut Chicken

Healthy, low fat and high fibre coconut chicken
Here's an Indian recipe for a healthy, low fat and high fibre coconut chicken.  It's going to take you about two hours, so light some candles, turn on some great music, and enjoy.  Hooray for slow food!

The Masala

Take a big non-stick pot*  and turn on the heat to medium after you've assembled your spices:

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
4 cloves
3 green cardamoms (mashed with a mortar and pestle, husk removed)
2 black cardamoms (also mashed with a mortar and pestle, husk removed)
15 or so black peppercorns
a bit more than 1/4 fennugreek seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
5 allspice
2 cinnamon sticks

Once your pan is fairly hot, add your whole spices and watch carefully.  Shake the pot from time to time, so the spices are evenly roasted.  This process shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes.  It's done when a slight bit of smoke wafts up, smelling like expensive incense.  Turn off the heat. Immediately pour it into your spice grinder (I use a coffee grinder designated for this job), add 1/2 dried crushed red chillies and 1 goodly teaspoon of turmeric.  Grind to a nice powder.

The chicken and vegetables

Meanwhile, get your other ingredients ready.

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 goodly teaspoon dark mustard seeds
1 goodly teaspoon cumin seeds (yes, there's already some in the masala)
1 medium red onion diced
1 1/2 inch ginger root sliced into matchsticks
5 cloves fresh garlic chopped
2 green chillies chopped fine
10 to 15 skinned and deboned chicken thighs
2 cups water
1/2 cup masoor dal (little orange lentils)
4 or 5 pieces of dried green mango
1/4 cup dried coconut milk
salt to taste
4 miniature bok choy
1 good stalk broccoli
1 red pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro

Turn the heat on under your pot to high.  When the pot is hot, add your oil.  Sprinkle in a few mustard seeds and watch them to see when they pop.  Once they start to pop, add the rest of the mustard seeds, and watch them sizzle and turn white.  Stand back.  They jump out and it stings when they land on you, and they stain your clothes.  Beware, but be quick! Toss in your cumin seeds and watch them sizzle and turn white.  Quickly add your onion and ginger.  Stir to bring the heat down so your seeds don't burn.  Bring the heat down to medium.  Relax and maybe pour yourself a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine while the onion carmelizes a little. 

Once it's soft and turning a bit brown at the edges, add your chillies and garlic.  Stir carefully so they cook but don't brown.  Now is the time to add your masala.  Stir often to let it cook for just a couple of minutes.  Scrape the masala and onion mixture into one lump, leaving lots of space for browning chicken.  Open your chicken pieces, and place them in the empty spots of your pot.  Scrape the onions onto the chicken to clear up another space, and add another piece. You will have more chicken than spots, so just rest the extra amount on top of everything, and leave it alone to let those chicken pieces brown for about five minutes.  Give it a stir to give other chicken pieces a chance to brown.  I don't brown every last piece, but I want a few browned, so the overall flavour is good.

Pour in your water, and coconut milk.  Eventually the coconut milk powder will break down and make a nice sauce, don't worry about lumps right now.  Crumble in dried green mango.  Add dal.  Cover. Cook about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the dal is soft, add salt to taste.  Chop broccoli stems and add them.  Chop florets, red pepper, and bok choy.  Rinse the cilantro and set aside.  About ten minutes before serving, add the vegetables and stir, but keep the cilantro aside. Minutes before serving, use scizzors to cut the cilantro into little pieces, directly into the pot.  Stir, and serve over basmati rice or quinoa.   If you add some plain pro-biotic yogurt as a sauce, this will be even healthier!

Congratulate yourself on serving a healthy, low fat spicy chicken coconut curry. 

* I use ceramic infused titanium pots, which reduce the amount of oil needed, and seem to do an excellent job, better than anything I've used before.  And they're not horribly heavy, like cast iron!


  1. Sounds delicious. I look forward to reading your blog and getting more recipe ideas.


    1. Mary, is there any reason not to used canned coconut milk instead of powder and water?

      I'm very much looking forward to making several of your recipes. Would you like the pistachio ice cream one? It's not really kulfi but it's similar, and yummy....

    2. Your pistachio icecream compares to the stuff we got outside of a fort in Jaipur! Absolutely magnifiscent! Yes, I want that recipe! Can I print it here?

      As for the coconut powder, I prefer it because I can make it as rich and thick as I like. The canned coconut milk is a bit runny, and by the time it's reduced properly, the vitamins have been compromised in whatever dish is getting created.