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.
I have a Maqlubeh (Maqluba) recipe collection. I have always wanted to make this beautiful, multi-layered, flavor-packed dish but was hesitant because it is a bit of a project. This streamlined version inspired me to finally try it. I even made it on a weeknight! (admittedly a little ambitious…)
This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Courtney Hill. I substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in. I also used unsalted butter and chicken stock.
When presenting the finished dish, the platter is gently shaken to create cracks in the rice. The cracks reveal the aromas as well as the chicken and vegetables inside. I absolutely loved it- and drove my family crazy talking about it all evening. 😉 Although it could be served as a complete meal on its own, I served it with roasted asparagus and broccoli as well. It is classically served with a tomato, cucumber and yogurt salad. Fantastic.
8 ounces cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 to 10 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 medium eggplant (about 8 to 12 ounces), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock
In a large bowl, combine the rice and 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then set aside.
Prepare a lidded pot that measures 9½ to 11 inches in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Cut 2 rounds of kitchen parchment the size of the pot. (I cut the rounds slightly oversized so that it had a little bit of a lip.)
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
Set the pot over medium and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering.
Add the chicken “skin side” down and cook until browned, about 7 minutes for boneless or 10 minutes for bone-in. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Remove the pot from heat. Place 1 parchment round on the bottom, then turn to coat it with fat.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the parchment-lined pot, then sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water and drain again.
Scatter 1 cup of the rice in a thin, even layer over the almonds.
In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining rice with the cauliflower, garlic, melted butter, cumin, allspice, turmeric, nutmeg and 1 3/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture, then distribute the remainder in an even layer in the pot.
Place the chicken and accumulated juices (if using boneless, skinless chicken) in the pot, slightly nestling the pieces into the rice-cauliflower layer; discard any accumulated juices (if using bone-in chicken).
Shingle the eggplant slices over the chicken in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup rice-cauliflower mixture.
Pour the stock into the pot (it will not fully cover the eggplant), then bring to a boil over medium-high. Set the second parchment round over the food, the cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, reduce to low and cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Remove the parchment (and accumulated liquid on the top), then invert a serving platter onto the pot. Holding the platter against the pot, carefully invert the two together; leave the pot overturned on the platter and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slowly lift off the pot and, if needed, remove and discard the parchment.
Gently shake the platter to create cracks in the top of the finished dish.
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 is an absolutely incredible vegetarian stew. Traditionally, this dish is made with lamb or beef, but the author described this version as just as savory without the meat. I absolutely loved it. ❤
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I substituted American globe eggplant for the smaller Japanese eggplant and incorporated Campari tomatoes. I also used fresh lime juice instead of dried black limes. We ate the stew over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wow. 🙂
Yield: Serves 4
8–9+ T vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
2 globe eggplants (about 2 lbs), peeled, cut into 1-inch rounds OR 6 small Japanese eggplants (about 2 lbs), peeled, halved lengthwise
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
4 T double-concentrated tomato paste
10 Campari tomatoes, cut into eighths OR 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 lb), seeds removed, coarsely chopped
2 cups stock (can substitute water)
3 to 4 cups water
3 lemon omani (dried black limes) or 2 T fresh lime juice (see Note)
cooked basmati rice, parsley leaves, plain yogurt, and flatbread, for serving (I served brown Basmati rice, Greek yogurt & warm naan)
Heat 6 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high.
Working in batches, cook eggplant in a single layer, adding another tablespoon of oil if pan looks dry, until deeply browned, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet; season with coarse salt. (I added an additional 4 tablespoons of oil to cook the second batch of globe eggplant slices.)
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to same pot and cook onion over medium to medium-high, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned around the edges, 8 to10 minutes.
Sprinkle turmeric and cinnamon over and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes; cook, still stirring, until tomatoes have burst and mixture is very thick, 5 to 9 minutes.
Nestle eggplant into sauce and season lightly with salt.
Pour in stock and 3 cups of water; bring to a simmer.
Pierce dried lemon omani with a paring knife and add to pot. (If using lime juice instead, add when dish is finished cooking.)
Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until thickened and eggplant is almost creamy in texture, 40–50+ minutes. (I cooked mine significantly longer to achieve my desired thickness.)
Divide rice among bowls; ladle stew over. (I served the stew over brown Basmati rice.)
Top with parsley and yogurt and serve with flatbread. (I served it with warm naan.)
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.
I have an overwhelming collection of tahdig recipes. I have always wanted to make this Persian rice dish!
The dish is named for the crispy layer of rice that forms at the bottom of the pot is known as tahdig, which means “bottom of the pot.” This version also has thinly sliced potatoes in the crispy layer. This was my first attempt, and although delicious, it was a little bit too crispy and dark on the top. I modified the cooking times in the recipe below.
This recipe is from Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski. I used Yukon gold potatoes and seasoned the finished dish with sprinkled sumac.
Yield: Serves 8 as a side dish
2 cups white Basmati rice
1/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 small Russet or 1-2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16-inch thick
1 T coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 T dried cranberries, coarsely chopped, optional
sumac, for sprinkling, optional
Place the rice in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cold water to cover by 1 inch; stir. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the saffron with 1 tablespoon of hot water; set aside.
Place the rice in a large saucepan. Add 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the rice is slightly softened on the outside, 3 to 4 minutes.
Drain the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold running water, then shake well to remove excess water. Set aside.
Cut out a round of parchment paper to cover the bottom of a 10-inch wide or other wide heavy pot with a lid, such as a Dutch oven. (I used a 10-inch enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Line the pan with the parchment round.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pot and melt over medium-low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Arrange the potatoes, overlapping, on the bottom of the pan.
Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoons salt to the bowl with the saffron water and gently stir to combine.
Spoon the rice on top of the sliced potatoes (do not press or pack down). Using a fork, gently spread the rice in an even layer.
Cook, uncovered, over medium or medium-low heat, until the mixture is fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. (I cooked it for 10 minutes over medium heat but would reduce the time to 7 minutes next time- possibly over medium-low heat.)
Wrap a clean dishcloth or flour sack towel around the lid and tightly cover the pan, folding the cloth over the edges of the lid.
Reduce the lowest possibly setting and cook, undisturbed, until the potatoes are crisp (you can peek by lifting up the mixture at an edge or two with a large serving spoon), 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours.
Uncover and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
Remove the pan from the heat. Invert the dish onto a serving plate, then lift off and discard the parchment paper.
Sprinkle with the parsley, cranberries, and sumac, as desired.
This is a healthy and hearty vegetarian stew. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. I loved that it was loaded with warm spices.
The recipe was adapted from Brooklyn’s Kos Kaffe via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used farro instead of barley, used canned beans, and increased the amount of garlic. I also reduced the amount water to achieve a thicker consistency. Nice.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
For the Baharat Spice Blend:
1 T sweet paprika
1/2 T ground coriander
1/2 T ground cumin
1/2 T ground turmeric
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground allspice
For the Stew:
5 T extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
2 leeks, white and green parts, diced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated
1 cup finely diced fennel, fronds reserved (1 medium or 1/2 large fennel bulb)
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons baharat spice blend
1 small (or 1/2 large) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup pearled barley or farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
large pinch saffron, crumbled
4 cups cooked beans or chickpeas (I used 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (1/2 large or 1 small squash)
3/4 cup peeled and diced turnip (1 medium)
1/2 cup red lentils
plain yogurt, for serving (I used Greek yogurt)
aleppo pepper or hot paprika, for serving
brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
Make the baharat spice blend. Set aside.
Cut leeks in half, slice into half moons, and soak in a bowl of water. Drain and finely chop in a food processor.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and cook leeks until they begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
While the leeks cook, finely chop the cilantro stems, fennel and garlic in a food processor.
Stir the cilantro stems into the pot, along with diced fennel and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in baharat, cinnamon and tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes.
Stir in broth, 1 cup water (water can be omitted for a thicker consistency), the barley/farro, and the salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stir in saffron, if using, and reduce heat to medium. (The original recipe uses 3 cups of water- increase for a more soup-like consistency, as desired.)
Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. (I simmered the stew for 20 minutes because I used par-cooked farro.)
Stir in beans, squash, turnip and lentils; cook until barley/farro and vegetables are tender, about another 30 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Remove cinnamon stick.
Ladle stew into bowls. (I served it over rice.)
Spoon a dollop of yogurt on top and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with cilantro leaves, fennel fronds and Aleppo pepper or paprika, as desired.