Yummy Chicken Curry With Baked Coconut Rice

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Masaman curry is  a favourite of ours. We have a local Thai T/A up the road that we sometimes turn to in times of need (or times of greed). We always order the Beef Masaman because it is delicious. We’ve ordered it elsewhere and nothing quite rates. I pointed out to kid that one big difference is the potatoes. You can tell when the potatoes have been cooked in the curry (as opposed to boiled in water and added separately) because they take on the flavour and they’ll start to break down ever so slightly to thicken the sauce a little. It really makes a difference.

This curry is a loose interpretation of that. I have replaced beef with chicken and potatoes with pumpkin just because I felt like it. It’s also a good way to get  pumpkin down our little darlings’ throat without any fuss. I’ve added beans too for that ‘green’ element, you could use peas or snow peas or spinach or whatever.

Baked coconut rice is a really easy way to do good rice. Baking means it doesn’t have to sit on the stove top and burn on the bottom. It will cook evenly due to the lack of direct heat. This should work in a rice cooker also but I don’t have one so I’ve never tried. The coconut adds an element of decadence without being too rich. If you can find long-life tetra-pack coconut cream then use that instead. It tastes better. I’ve used tinned because I couldn’t find the other on short notice and it tastes really good anyways.

Chicken and Pumpkin Curry – serves about 4

INGREDIENTS
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500gm diced chicken breast – using free range is better on many levels. Use what you can, I won’t judge.
1 small piece of Japanese pumpkin – skinned and diced
250gm green beans – top and tailed , 2-3cm batons.
1 stick celery – sliced thin
1 tablespoon Masaman curry paste – see notes
250ml coconut cream
1/2 bunch coriander – washed and picked
2 lemongrass sticks -bashed and them tied in a not – see notes
1 teaspoon sweet soy.

HOW
Add a little oil to a medium sized pot or deep fry pan. Add the chicken, pumpkin and celery and a little salt. Sauté these until the chicken turns white all over. Add the curry paste and stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated the paste becomes fragrant. Add the stock, coconut cream and lemongrass then simmer gently until the chicken is cooked and the pumpkin has JUST started to break down a little and thicken the sauce(like the potatoes in the afore mentioned beef curry). Finish with the soy and coriander, discard the lemongrass. Serve with rice and a wedge of lime. Masaman is traditionally served with chopped peanuts on top and tomato and cucumber on the side. Up to you.

BAKED COCONUT RICE.
You need 1 cup basmati rice -see notes.
2 cups coconut cream – or 1 cup coconut and cup water (stock will work also).
4 kaffir lime leaves -buy them fresh and freeze what you don’t use.
1 tspn oil.
Put a an oven proof pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, rice and bruised lime leaves. Stir until the rice starts to turn clear and you can smell the lime leaf. Add the liquid and a little salt. Cover well and bake on 160* for 30 mins. Remove from the oven but DON’T remove the lid (foil will work also) for a 15-20 minutes. You need to allow this standing time for any excess moisture to be soaked up by the rice. Remove the lid and fluff gently with a fork.
Baked coconut Rice

What Kid Did
Washed and picked the coriander (she is always doing this it seems), stirred the pot occasionally, had a great time watching me bash the lemongrass with a hammer, picked the beans. Helped with photo shoot. She loved this dinner, especially the coconut rice.

Notes
*Pumpkin – Japanese is best for this dish. Buy a small piece already cut from the pumpkin so you can see the colour of it. The flesh should be a deep orange colour.
*Masaman curry paste – I always use one of the Asian brands available from my local fruit shop. Try an Asian supermarket or gourmet deli otherwise. I’m not normally down for brand naming but use Maesri or Mae Ploy. The generic supermarket brands will not give you the curry you deserve. These are brands that my chefs from Sth East Asia trust. You could successfully replace Masaman with yellow, green or red pastes. If you use green, add fresh green basil leaves instead of coriander.
*Swap the chicken for chick peas and replace the chicken stock for veg stock or water to make a great vegetarian option.
*Basmati – Jasmine would do too. Basmati has a better GI level.
*Lemongrass – It is really fibrous and inedible. Lay it out flat on a chopping board and gently tap it until it is soft and pliable. Tie it in a not so it stays together and is easily removed at the end.
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