Coconut Curry Chicken with Basil Rice

For an English/Journalism major, I have a staggering number of classics I still need to read.

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Right now, I’m fully engrossed in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a wonderfully compelling book with such rich, beautiful language it almost inspires me to try and write my own Spanish novel. Almost.

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Obviously it didn’t inspire my cooking, because this dish is clearly not Spanish, but regardless of that, if you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it. And if you have any suggestions for classics I need to read, please send them forth.

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What You Need:

  • 2 cups dry Jasmine rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or regular EVOO) divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 3 large chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons ground curry spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

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What You Do:

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In a medium sauce pot, bring the 3 cups water to a boil, add the 2 cups rice and the basil, cover, and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the water is gone. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil on medium until warm. Add minced garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds or until just softened.

Add onion and sautee, stirring continuously, until soft and translucent.

Add the spinach and coconut milk and turn heat to low. Cover and let steam to reduce spinach. The coconut milk will steam off and absorb so keep an eye on the dish to ensure it stays moist and doesn’t burn.

While the spinach is cooking, place chicken breasts in a large skillet with remaining tablespoon of oil and slowly cook on low-medium heat, turning sides every few minutes to cook thoroughly through.

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Once chicken is done, remove from pan and place on a cutting board. Slice the breasts into 1-inch pieces and place into skillet with spinach.

Add the rice to the chicken and spinach and stir well.

Add the curry spice, salt and pepper and stir well.

I served this with a hearty slice of garlic Naan bread (which is amazing). Enjoy!

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Coconut Vegetable Curry

We had a little bit of a water disaster at our house the other night. Two windowsills that need replacing decided they just couldn’t hold on anymore, and they made that decision during one of the longest and most torrential rainstorms the Seacoast has seen in a while.

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It turns out water had been dripping through the walls and into our basement all day, but Mike heroically made this discovery in the middle of my dinner prep/first glass of hard cider.

Needless to say, my goal of enjoying warm curry and rice in front of the fire while binging on nightime television was not realized. Instead, I held sheets of plastic through the open windows while Mike stood outside, bundled in rain gear, staple-gunning the plastic to our house with frozen fingers. Winter is fun.

So the photos for this dish aren’t great, and I let the whole pan burn at one point because I simply forgot I was cooking. But as long as you don’t discover a hole in your house during a rainstorm while you’re making this dish, you’ll be fine. And it still came out great for us, even if we wolfed it down at the table with zero regard to the actual taste. I’m looking forward to rediscovering it with the leftovers already.

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Also barring any major extraneous complications, this is a really easy dish to make. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s mostly just spices.

What You Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium sweet, yellow or red onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5oz)
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly chopped sage
  • 2 tbsp curry powder

What You Do:

Cook the rice according to package directions and set aside, keeping warm.

While rice is cooking, heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

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When oil is hot, add sliced onions and stir, sauteing for about 2 minutes or until they become soft and translucent.

Add the garlic, carrots and white wine, and cover, simmering until wine is evaporated.

Add the peppers and green onions and vegetable broth, mixing until well combined and cover, simmering, until vegetable broth has evaporated.

Add the coconut milk. Stir well for about a minute.

Add all spices and stir until well combined.

Serve the vegetable curry over a bed of warm Basmati rice.

Pro Tip: Don’t walk away from the dish while it’s simmering in white wine and/or vegetable broth for more than a couple minutes. It’s not afraid to burn.

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Ratatouille with Coconut Curry Sauce

I feel bad calling myself a cooking enthusiast since I had not even heard of ratatouille until I saw the Disney movie. After seeing a rat prepare it, I thought, “I could do that.”

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But then, a lot of time went by. (A LOT of time. I just checked, and that movie was released in 2007 – yikes!)

So seven years later, I got my act together and made a decision to prepare this undoubtedly delicious meal for my in-laws, who were visiting from New York. I learned the basic gist of the recipe, and I was only feeling a little apprehensive about being able to pull it off.

But then, I was totally sidelined. The power of suggestion is absurdly effective. One second, I am happily going about my day thinking about trees and flowers (not really, just trying to make a point here), and the next, I see a commercial for pizza and suddenly, that is ALL I WANT.

As I was preparing for ratatouille-making, a friend happened to mention having had a delicious coconut curry dish at lunch.

Well. I’ll be damned. I LOVE coconut curry.

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So, since I was already feeling overwhelmed by the recipe, I made an effortless decision to swap out the sauce for a coconut curry tomato sauce.

I’ll tell you – it was an amazing decision. This dish does not disappoint, and was a hit with my in-laws (at least that’s what they told me) 🙂

Quick Disclaimer: If you don’t own a mandolin, this recipe is still possible to make – it just might drive you crazy. Make sure you have a sharp knife, at the very least!

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What You Need for the Ratatouille:

  • 1 medium zucchini squash, ends cut off
  • 1 medium summer squash, ends cut off
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper and yellow bell pepper, tops cut off and de-seeded but still bell-shaped
  • 2 cups dry Jasmine or white rice

What You Need for the Coconut Curry Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalepeno, minced (seeded if desired)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (powdered ginger will also work fine)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices (this is equal to 3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes if you wish to stay away from canned foods)
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

In a large wok or skillet, pour in the olive oil and lightly simmer the onion, garlic, jalepeno and fresh ginger until soft. (If you only have powdered ginger, add it later).

Add the tomatoes and curry powder (also add ginger powder if using).  Turn heat up to bring to a slight boil and stir well.

Add the coconut milk and sugar, stirring well. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

Set aside, but keep warm on low heat.

Using a mandolin, thinly slice all of your vegetables. As I said, if you don’t have a mandolin, you can get away with cutting everything by hand. Try to make very thinly-sliced pieces. Thicker pieces really only impact how long the dish will take to cook.

Layer the vegetables in alternating order along the bottom of a large baking dish or dutch oven. Each time you complete a layer, spoon about 1 cup of the still-hot coconut curry tomato sauce over the veggies.

Continue layering and alternately pouring with sauce until the veggies have been used up. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may find you have vegetables left over. This is ok! They make great snacks, after all!

Pour remaining sauce over the top, gently poking apart the vegetables to let it seep through.

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Cover, and place the whole concoction into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and are easily pierced with a fork. You may find it takes slightly longer depending, again, on the size of your baking dish and thickness of your layers.

While the dish is baking, cook your rice according to package directions.

When everything is ready, serve the ratatouille over the rice and enjoy! It’s where French cuisine meets Indian cuisine, right? Bon’ appetite!

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Pro Tip: If you have leftovers and want to re-purpose the meal to try and pull a fast one on your family, simply pulse the ratatouille (without the rice) in a food processor with a small amount of vegetable broth to turn it into soup! Make it as chunky or pureed as you desire, and add the rice after for some additional texture.