I Haven’t Written in a While…Let’s Spice it Up, Shall We?

So, for any of you that have been following my writing adventure, you know that I haven’t written in a while. My sincerest appologies to you. I haven’t written since September. I know…September! I really have no excuses to offer to you other than life has been pretty bland. I’m blaming my trip to Colorado. Yep, my trip to Colorado made my real life feel bland, white bread, dull, tedious, uninteresting…you get the picture.

Back in October (I feel so ashamed…) I decided to shake it up a bit in the kitchen; maybe use a little spice and everything nice and make something I normally wouldn’t make. Or eat for that matter (at least if I were in my right mind).

The inspiration struck me as I was strolling down the spice aisle in the grocery store after work. I’d already picked up some chicken, but what to do with it? Fajitas? Nah. While delicious, I wanted something different. I didn’t have enough time to marinate it for grilling and I really didn’t want to bake or grill it with a dry rub. Then it hit me. I spotted a jar of curry. Chicken curry.

I pulled out my phone, typed “chicken curry” into the search engine and voila! There was my recipe.  I used one that I found on allrecipes.com entitled Indian Chicken Curry II (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/indian-chicken-curry-ii/ (evidently, there is an Indian Chicken Curry I).

As an aside, I was a little afraid because of all of the spices that this dish requires. But mostly, I was afraid of this recipe because of the curry. Curry terrifies me. I’m white. Incredibly white. I have a very low tolerance for spicy food and thus, my taste buds have been deprived of many a dish. I’ve tried curries before and we did not get along.  I digress, I decided to swallow my fear, grab a bottle of curry powder and see what happens.

The process of making this dish is actually surprisingly simple. The most time consuming part is waiting as everything simmers and makes your house smell amazing.

Here is a list of ingredients for Indian Chicken Curry (Part Deux)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Cup plain yogurt
  • ¾ Cup coconut milk
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

The Fixin’s

Step 1:

Measure out all of your spices and put into separate bowls or in separate tiny spice piles on a plate . I found that pre-measuring everything before starting helps the entire process flow more smoothly.

Aromatic Spice Plate

Cut your chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Chop your small onion.

Step 2:

Pour olive oil into a skillet and heat. Add onion and sauté until lightly browned. I sauted the onion & garlic together (which you aren’t supposed to do, but it didn’t seem to have any negative effects on the flavor). If you’re not a scofflaw like me, brown your onion first and then add:

Garlic

Curry powder

Cinnamon

Paprika

1 Bay Leaf

Ginger (I was out of fresh ginger, so I used ground, dried ginger)

Sugar

Salt

Speecy Spicy

The recipe on allrecipes.com states you should “continue stirring for 2 minutes”, however, I found that with the olive oil absorbed all of the spices above so there really wasn’t anything to “stir”.

Step 3:

Add chicken, tomato paste (which I didn’t have, so I didn’t use it. It works without that layer of flavor), yogurt and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Bubblin’ Goodness

This was the hardest part for me. The waiting. This dish is so aromatic that all I wanted to do was eat.

I put on a pot of jasmine rice to cook while the yummy curry was simmering. You should do the same. And pour yourself a very large glass of wine. It’s also a good time to wash up the very few items you use to create this dish, that is, if you want to be a responsible adult. Otherwise, it can just wait ‘til morning.

After about 23 minutes, I could take it no longer, so I juiced half a lemon and added the cayenne peper and stirred, setting the timer for another 5 minutes so the two new flavors could meld with the rest.

At this point, the scents of curry and cinnamon were so intense that I couldn’t help but dress a plate with jasmine rice and ladle chicken curry on top. I was so excited! I took a deep breath and a bite. Holy hell it was spicey!

There are so many layers of flavors  in this dish. First off, you’ll savor the rich texture of the sauce from the yogurt and coconut milk.  Then, you notice the smoky richness of the curry and paprika, a subtle sweetness from the cinnamon, then you’ll get the tang of the lemon. Swallow your bite, and the heat sets in.  The cayenne pepper is the finishing bit of heat that lingers on your tongue and in the back of the throat. Jasmine rice is the perfect accompaniment for this dish.  The slight sweetness and smell lend itself very well to the curry and helps cut the heat slightly.

All in all, if I were to make this dish again,   I’d cut the amount of cayenne by half and probably increase the salt a bit.

If you have a very low tolerance for spicy food like me, and thus have avoided several food styles out of fear of your tongue will catch on fire, burn and completely fall out of your mouth, trust me when I say this: it won’t. Just keep a glass of milk nearby to cut the heat.

My venture into Curry Land definitely spiced up my life, if only for that night. But, I found that I actually kind of dig the smokiness of the curry…something that used to scare me.   One of the ways I tend to cope with life is though food…I know, its terrible. But in this case,  what’s a better way to shake things up than by creating something out of your comfort zone?