Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Coconut Masala Chicken

Coconut Masala Chicken

What with my taste buds still salivating over the Great Goat Extravaganza, I thought I’d try something similar with chicken, especially since I still had coconut in the freezer, where it’s been calling my name ever since.  The coconut and kale add a lot to both texture and flavour in this recipe.  

The Masala
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon allspice
2 cloves
¼ teaspoon black cumin seed
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seed
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon dried chillies
4 green cardamoms, husked
1black cardamom, husked
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 cinnamon sticks

Put all of the masala ingredients, excepting the turmeric, into a non-stick large pot on medium high heat.  As soon as they let off a bit of smoke and lots of fragrance, remove from heat, placing into a spice grinder along with the turmeric, leaving the cinnamon in the pot.  Grind to a powder and set aside.
The Rest of It
1 tablespoon mustard oil
½ teaspoon dark mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large red onion, diced
1 square inch of ginger, grated
5 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
1 green Anaheim pepper, chopped
1 red Anaheim pepper, slivered
¼ cup fresh coconut*
¾ cup plain yogurt
10 stalks kale, ribbed and leaves torn to bits
10 chicken thighs, boned and skinned
2 tiny limes, juiced
Put the heat back on under the pot with the cinnamon sticks.  When it’s hot, add the oil.  Test if the oil is hot enough by adding a few mustard seeds.  If they sizzle, add them all, then add the cumin.  In a second or two, they should start sizzling.  Stir in the onion and ginger, and turn heat to medium.  Let the onions soften and caramelise a bit, then add the garlic and chillies.  Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the masala.  Stir that around and continue cooking for another couple of minutes.  Add the chicken pieces, trying to get them under the onion bits, so they can brown a bit.  Toss the kale in on top of it all.  Meanwhile, put the coconut pieces into the blender along with the yogurt, and buzz on the ‘chop ice’ setting.  When it feels evenly chopped, turn the blender up to high to get a finer paste.  Pour that onto the chicken, stirring well.  Keep the blender aside, and if the mixture boils down too rapidly, swish about a half cup of water into the blender to sweep the last remaining bits of coconut into the chicken.

Put a lid on it, and turn down to medium low to simmer for about half an hour.  (Now is a good time to get the rice on.)  I served this over saffron basmati rice, pouring the lime juice over the chicken at the last moment.  This coconut chicken stew has lots of texture, which spells tons of fibre.  If you are feeling especially virtuous, you could skip the rice and go for quinoa instead.  The flavours in this delicious stew will stand up well to either. 

* fresh coconut:  See my posting on The Great Goat Extravaganza to get advice for dealing with a whole fresh coconut

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