I was happy that the weather cooled down a little bit so that I could sneak this dinner into our springtime menu. The sauce was beyond creamy and delicious. Typically, this dish is prepared with charcoal-grilled chicken; I loved that this recipe was adapted to make using the broiler instead- perfect in cooler weather.
This recipe was adapted from Let’s Eat by Zaynab Issa, via Bon Appétit. It is a wonderful version of this popular East African-Indian chicken curry. It gave my son, who is studying World History in high school, a moment to review the impact and influences of the Indian Ocean trade routes prior to 1450 with our family. 😉 In Swahili, the trade language formed across the Indian Ocean, Kuku means chicken and Paka means to smear, to spread, or to apply.
The original recipe recommends using boneless thighs but notes that any cut of chicken, or a mix of breasts, tenders, or drumsticks (with pieces of similar size), could be substituted. A mix of vegetables can also be used in lieu of chicken to create a vegetarian version. I served it over rice with steamed spinach. Fast and fabulous.
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
3 to 6 garlic cloves
2 lemons, divided (one for marinade & one for serving)
1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more (or 2 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika or Kashmiri chile powder
one pinch or dash of cayenne pepper (omit if using Kashmiri chile powder)
1 medium jalapeño or 1–2 green Thai chiles, seeded and ribbed
1/4 cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1 can (13.5 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
4 T (1/4 cup) heavy cream (can substitute nondairy milk or additional coconut milk)
Basmati rice and/or crusty bread, for serving
Finely grate the garlic cloves into a large bowl with a Microplane; alternatively, a garlic press can be used.
Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze juice into the bowl; discard seeds.
Mix in 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal) and the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper (or Kashmiri Chile powder).
Add the skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 10) and toss to evenly coat.
Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curry base.
Coarsely chop the onion, tomato, chile(s) (depending on how spicy your chiles are and your heat tolerance), and cilantro. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend or process until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
Place an oven rack in the highest position. Heat the broiler. (I set my oven to Broiler+Max at 500 degrees.)
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a high-sided skillet or large pot over medium. (I used a large, low, and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour in purée and add 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal). Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until raw onion smell subsides and curry is paste-like in consistency, 15–20 minutes.
Arrange chicken on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, charred in spots, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest parts registers 165°, 14 to 20 minutes. (I placed the chicken “skin side down” for 7 minutes, flipped each piece over and cooked an additional 7 minutes.)
While the chicken is cooking, shake the can unsweetened coconut milk to ensure coconut cream is incorporated, then add coconut milk to curry and stir well to combine. Curry should be pale yellow. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until warm and slightly thickened, 5–10 minutes.
Once chicken is finished, add chicken and all of the pan juices to the curry and reduce heat to low; mix well to combine. Stirring constantly to prevent curry from breaking, dribble in the heavy cream.
Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
Serve the chicken and sauce over Basmati rice garnished with additional cilantro.
Cut remaining 1 lemon into wedges. Serve kuku paka with crusty bread and lemon wedges for squeezing over at the table, as desired.
This one pot dish was creamy, flavorful and absolutely delicious. The spices had a great balance with the richness of the coconut milk. I served it with roasted asparagus on the side. It was a perfect springtime dinner.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Shayma Owaise Saadat. I modified the proportions and method. I also swapped spinach for the kale. I increased the amount of leafy greens but would add even more next time! The original recipe notes that canned chickpeas can be substituted for the chicken to make a vegetarian version.
Yield: Serves 6
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice
2 T grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 medium or 1 large shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 9)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 13.5-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
6 to 8 cups of thinly sliced spinach or 4 cups Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise into strips
store-bought sliced pickled red chiles, for serving, optional
lime wedges, for serving, optional
Place rice in fine mesh sieve set inside a medium bowl; pour in cold water to cover.
Agitate rice with your hands until water is cloudy. Drain and repeat until water is almost clear (about 3 to 5 times). Drain.
Pour in water to cover rice by 2 inches; let soak 30–45 minutes.
Heat oil in a large heavy pot with a wide base over medium-high. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 1 minute.
Using paper towels, pat the chicken dry.
Add chicken, turmeric, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons of salt to the shallots and garlic. Cook, turning and moving around chicken thighs as needed, until chicken begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
Pour in 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, turning chicken once, until chicken is cooked through and very tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the lid of the pot and wrap it with a kitchen towel, securing the corners up and over the top of the lid with a rubber band.
Drain the rice and add to pot with chicken, then add coconut milk and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to incorporate and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook, undisturbed, 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Remove towel and lid. Remove towel from the lid.
Arrange spinach (or kale) in an even layer over chicken and rice and cover with lid. Let sit until wilted, about 10 minutes.
Top with chiles, if using. Serve with lime wedges.
This dish was a home run in my house. Everyone really enjoyed it. I served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan and steamed spinach on the side. Perfect weeknight comfort food! It does take a while to cook but it is mostly unattended. Letting the finished dish sit for 20 minutes after cooking allows the flavors to soak into the chicken- perfect.
This recipe is from Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy of Burma Superstar in the San Francisco Bay Area and their book “Burma Superstar,” via The New York Times, adapted by Genevieve Ko. I used Maharajah curry powder and additional garlic. I also had Greek yogurt available to temper the spice.
2 large yellow onions, finely diced (I used a food processor)
4 to 8garlic cloves, minced
1(13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2tablespoons fish sauce, plus more as needed
1teaspoon Madras curry powder (I used Maharajah curry powder)
1/2teaspoon ground cayenne
cooked rice or noodles, for serving (I used brown Basmati rice)
1cup cilantro sprigs, for serving
1lime or lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
warm naan, for serving
Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces; transfer to a bowl.
Add the paprika, turmeric and salt, and use your hands to mix well. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or cover and refrigerate overnight. (I marinated the chicken for 8 hours.)
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Stir in the onions, lower the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often to prevent scorching, until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the water from the onions has been cooked out and a glossy layer of oil has risen to the surface, about 5 minutes more.
Add the marinated chicken and stir to release the spices into the onion.
Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a near boil. Let the coconut milk simmer briskly for about 4 minutes to thicken a bit.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the fish sauce.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a near boil. The broth will thin out as the chicken starts to release its juices.
Lower to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Droplets of paprika-red oil will rise to the surface.
Stir in the curry powder and cayenne, simmer briefly and remove from the heat.
If time permits, let the curry sit for at least 20 minutes before serving. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools.
Bring to a simmer again right before serving and taste, adding more salt or fish sauce if desired.
Serve over rice or noodles, with bowls of cilantro and lime wedges. A dollop of Greek yogurt to temper the spice is also lovely, if desired.
In contrast to the fresh corn dish in my last post, this dish was quick and easy to prepare. It was an “out of the box” vegetarian meal that we all enjoyed. We ate it with roasted broccoli on the side. Nice.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions. The crispy onions were a fun topping- my son has been adding them to his sandwiches ever since. 🙂
Yield: 4 servings
6 ears of corn, kernels removed and cobs discarded
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 serrano or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
1 3″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup farro or other grains, such as freekeh or quinoa, cooked
3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 T store-bought crispy onions
lime wedges, for serving
Cook 1 cup farro according to the package directions. (I cooked 1 cup of Trader Joe’s farro in 2 cups stock for 10 to 12 minutes.) Let rest for an additional 5 minutes; set aside.
Cut kernels from corn; set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. (I used a 12-inch stainless pan.)
Cook chile, ginger, garlic, and 2 sliced scallions, tossing, until softened and fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
Add turmeric and cook, stirring frequently, just until darkened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add reserved corn and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing occasionally, until corn is beginning to lightly brown, about 3 minutes.
Add cooked farro and cook, tossing often, until heated through and beginning to crisp around the edges, about 2 minutes.
Add 3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk; season with salt, to desired consistency. Bring to a simmer and cook, adding 1–2 T water if needed to loosen, until flavors have melded, about 3 minutes.
Transfer corn mixture to a plate. Top with crispy onions and sliced scallions. Serve with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.
This is another incredible and full-flavored grilled meat dish. I used the marinade on boneless, skinless chicken thighs but it would also be wonderful with shrimp or flank or skirt steak according to the original recipe. I love that the residual marinade is cooked down into a sauce for serving.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz. I marinated ten chicken thighs but would add up to five more next time. I also used a mixture of harissa and sambal oelek for heat. Fabulous.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger
5 large garlic cloves
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek and/or harissa)
Finely grate ginger and garlic into a medium bowl.
Add coconut milk, chili paste, lime juice, brown sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil and whisk to combine.
Add chicken and toss to coat. Let sit at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip back into bowl, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
Pour marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2–3 minutes.
Clean and generously oil grate of grill (if there are a few flare-ups while you do so, not to worry, they will burn off).
Grill chicken, turning once and basting occasionally with marinade, until you see some good grill marks and chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a platter. Brush with remaining marinade. Top with cilantro and serve with lime wedges alongside.
This creamy and indulgent vegetarian stew was hearty and delicious. The dish is based on Southern Indian chickpea stews and some stews found in the Caribbean. I loved how it was loaded with greens (I used Swiss chard) and toppings. An added bonus is that the stew and toppings are made in one pot.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I doubled the onions and garlic, used rainbow chard, and substituted parsley for mint. We ate it over Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wonderful!
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
¼cup olive oil, plus more for serving
4 to 8 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2large yellow onions, chopped
1(2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
1teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon, to taste, if desired
2(15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2(15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
2cups vegetable or chicken stock
1bunch Swiss chard, spinach, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces (I used rainbow chard)
1/2 to 1cup flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint leaves, for serving
yogurt, for serving, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
toasted naan, pita, lavash or other flatbread, for serving, optional
Basmati rice, for serving, optional
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, (ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon- as desired) and the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the spices and oil, until they’ve started to break down and get a little browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, further crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides. (This will help thicken the stew.) Add coconut milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stew has thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. (Taste a chickpea or two, not just the liquid, to make sure they have simmered long enough to be as delicious as possible.) If after 30 to 35 minutes, you want the stew a bit thicker, keep simmering until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Determining perfect stew thickness is a personal journey! (I continued to cook the stew to a thicker consistency.)
Add greens and stir, making sure they’re submerged in the liquid. Cook until they wilt and soften, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on what you’re using. (Swiss chard and spinach will wilt and soften much faster than kale or collard greens.) Season again with salt and pepper.
Divide among bowls, over rice (if desired) and top with mint/parsley, reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Serve alongside yogurt and toasted pita or naan, if using; dust the yogurt with turmeric if you’d like.
This is an incredible vegetarian adaptation of the much loved classic Indian dish. It was also a fabulous weeknight dinner. I served it with steamed spinach which paired perfectly. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of garlic, used San Marzano tomatoes, and served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan. Great.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
4 T unsalted butter
1large yellow onion, minced
1 ½tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 to 8garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
1 T grated fresh ginger
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp sweet paprika or smoked paprika
2tsp garam masala
1small cinnamon stick
1(28 oz) can whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
1(13.5 to 15 oz) can coconut milk
2(15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
cooked brown or white rice, for serving
½cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving
naan, for serving, optional
steamed spinach, for serving, optional
Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to medium-high; keeping the heat on medium ensures even browning without burning the butter.)
Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook another 1 minute.
Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon or flat spatula, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot (or you can use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can).
Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to mash up the tomatoes if necessary to help them break down.
Stir in chickpeas and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the pot back up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Serve spooned over rice, topped with cilantro, with warm naan and steamed spinach, as desired.