Monday, July 23, 2007

Super Chilis + Coconut Chicken Curry

This year, we decided to indulge in a few small pots of hot peppers for the container garden. I went for a varied collection and ended up with Habañero, Hot Portugal, Thai Dragon, and these:

The peppers took weeks to grow tiny blossoms...

... and then, in the blink of an eye, we had plump little peppers everywhere! The weather here has vascillated wildly between searing heat and cooling thunderstorms, and it seems that the peppers have enjoyed it far more than we have.

We have been trying to use up these
little pods of fiery goodness as fast as we can, since they can be eaten at any stage. If you let them grow long enough they turn yellowish-green, then bright rusty orange, and finally a sizzling shade of red.

These chilis work especially well in one of our favourite curries (original recipe courtesy of Gourmet). This is the first curry I ever made, and my paper copy is now smudged and well-worn.
Because I can't leave recipes alone, I offer my own tweaked version here. If you have the time or a willing friend/sous-chef and can make two curries, this goes very well alongside a tomato-based jhalfrazi or a creamy yogurt-based korma.

Chicken Curry
Serves 6

3 medium-sized yellow onions, diced
6 shallots, peeled
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
one 2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled
3 tablespoons curry powder or curry paste
one 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons safflower or other high-heat-tolerant oil
one fresh chili , chopped (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 star anise
1-2 teaspoons salt + more to taste if needed

3 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces

In a food processor or with a knife, mince shallots, garlic, and ginger.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt just before browning. In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot and brown chicken, transferring to a large plate when done. You may need to do this in a few batches.

When the chicken is done, add onions to the pan and saute until translucent and golden, stirring frequently. Add shallot paste and curry powder and and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add chicken (with any juices that have accumulated on the plate) and remaining ingredients, and turn the heat to low. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Taste and correct for salt.

Discard cinnamon stick, clove, and star anise. Serve over rice.

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