Tag Archives: curry

Chicken with Almond-Garlic Saffron Sauce

Seasoned to Taste - Chicken with Saffron Almond Sauce

Saffron is an unusual flavor that I’m not totally sure about. On one hand, I associate it with delicious Spanish dishes like paella, but on the other hand, it has a strange essence. The turmeric color it releases is beautiful, but that earthy flavor easily overwhelms my palette, so I have to be careful how I use it.

This Spanish-inspired dish uses saffron along with a bunch of garlic and almonds to create a rich, creamy sauce served with chicken. It is quite similar to a curry, so I am calling it Spanish Chicken Curry. The almonds puree with fresh bread crumbs to thicken the sauce without the aid of dairy products. I love that trick.

While I only used a small pinch of saffron threads (get these at Trader Joe’s – way cheaper!), I still found the flavor a bit strong. Grant loved it and ate all the leftovers, so perhaps the problem lies with my pickiness. My senses have been much more acute lately…

I made this with an easy rice side – simply cooking a little tomato in oil in your rice pot, then stirring in the uncooked rice and proceeding as normal. The tomato broke down into a nice light-red tinge gently coating the rice, providing a sweet bed for my chicken and sauce.

This recipe has a few steps, but the sauce can be made in advance and simply added in where the recipe calls for it. Note that I used boneless skinless chicken because it’s just so much easier to eat!

Adapted from Bon Appeit:

Chicken with Almond-Garlic Saffron Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch cubes crustless white bread
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup dry Sherry or white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 chicken legs (I used 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method:

  • Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add almonds and stir until golden brown, about 3 minutes; transfer to paper towels. Place 1/3 cup almonds in a blender or food processor. Set aside remaining almonds for garnish.
  • Add bread cubes and garlic to same pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until bread is golden brown and crisp, 4–5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to blender. Add broth, wine, 1/2 tsp. pepper, saffron, and a large pinch of salt; process until almost smooth. Set aside.
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to pot and cook, turning down heat if needed to prevent burning, until chicken is golden brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Add onion to pot; cook, stirring often, until onion is caramelized around edges, about 6 minutes. Add sauce and chicken to pot, pushing down chicken to submerge. Bring sauce to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until chicken is just cooked through, approx. 10 minutes for me, but depends on the thickness of your chicken. Bone-in chicken will take 20 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide chicken and sauce among bowls. Garnish each serving with reserved almonds and chopped parsley.

Seasoned to Taste - Chicken with Almond Saffron Sauce

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Indian Green Fish Curry

I must admit that I haven’t played much with fish curries. But then I had some at my favorite Indian restaurant in Winston, Turmeric, and I realized that curry is a great way to eat cheap, mild fish. Because even if your fish isn’t the freshest halibut, the strong curry flavors can carry it to the finish line.

So I made this curry from my big Indian curry cookbook. At less than 250 calories per serving, it’s a lovely staple in my curry repertoire.

Indian Green Fish Curry

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 T lime juice
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 4 fish fillets (such as cod, tilapia or halibut), skinned and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 c. cashew nuts, unsalted
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 3/4 c. plain or Greek yogurt
  • 3 T chopped cilantro

Mix turmeric, lime juice and salt, then rub over fish. Cover and marinate 15 min.

Meanwhile, grind onion, jalapeno, garlic, cashews and fennel seeds to a paste with food processor or mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Heat oil in large heavy frying pan and fry cumin seeds until they begin to splutter, 2 min. Add paste and fry for 5 min, then stir in ground coriander, cumin, salt and water. Cook 2-3 min. Stir in yogurt and chopped cilantro. Simmer for 5 min. Add fish pieces and gently stir in. Cover and cook gently, 10 min, until the fish is tender and flakes away.

Spoon fish curry over rice and garnish with more cilantro or any other herbs you have desire.

I always feel like an East Indian meal is authentic if you crunch down on whole seeds – be it curry, fennel or corriander. Just a wonderfully exotic mix of flavors coating every firm, flaky piece of fish.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Sesame-Broiled Tilapia with Coconut Red Curry


A certain special friend, who shall remain nameless, turns her nose up at tilapia as the lowest fish on the pescatarian totem pole. Something about tilapia being a cheap bottom-feeder. :)

Tilapia are indeed cheap, but in my opinion, are a great vehicle for strongly flavored dishes due to their clean taste. I will note that I’ve read that farm-raised tilapia can be unhealthy due to the amount of corn the fish are fed, so be mindful when you are shopping. When handled properly, this fish is not mealy or fishy, but instead a quick and yummy weeknight meal option.

Grant typically fries tilapia for fish tacos and it’s one of my favorite dishes. But I need something beyond fried. Then my friend Merissa wrote me about a delicious tilapia curry she had recently made. The resulting recipe is all her.

A wonderful and rather light curry simmers on your stove and is poured over tilapia fillets perfectly broiled in toasted sesame oil. It filled our house with wonderful smells and the taste met our expectations.

Sesame-Broiled Tilapia with Coconut Red Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2  teaspoons  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup  finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped green onions
  • 1  teaspoon  curry powder
  • 2  teaspoons  red curry paste
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 4  teaspoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1  (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4  (6-ounce) tilapia fillets (we used 2)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3  cups  hot cooked jasmine rice
  • 4  lime wedges

Preheat broiler.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Brush fish with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

When I made this, I packed it into a picnic basket for a picnic at Reynolda Park. What a great departure from the typical fried-chicken picnic fare. That curry is so delicious, I could drink it with a straw!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Green curry shrimp

Chinese New Year is coming up, so you’re going to see a plethora of Asian-inspired dishes here. Not necessarily to mark the occasion, but because those complex, spicy dishes have always been my favorites. Even when I was a picky-eater child who only ate Top Ramen and Pad Thai (true story).

So sit back and get comfortable – you’ll get three new shrimp dishes in the next few weeks because I’ve been doing all sorts of yummy things with them after discovering that the frozen shrimp at our local Harris Teeter provides crisp and fresh shrimp when cooked just right.

Shrimp curry is an easy weeknight meal that will give you plenty of leftovers for dinner and lunches the next night and a half. I skimmed down this Bon Appetit recipe to be even easier for the home cook, so feel free to improvise and make even better (and let me know!).

Green Curry Shrimp with Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 bunches broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 T prepared green curry paste (I use Thai kitchen)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • Lime wedges

Cook broccoli in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry paste; cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk; bring to simmer. Add shrimp; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli; stir to heat through. Season curry with salt and pepper. Serve with lime wedges and ribbons of basil, if you have it.

The shrimp maintain their delicate flavor amid the creamy curry, with coconut milk giving it just the right texture (note: I used one full-fat and one lite coconut milk can for this) and the spicy curry adding elements of kaffir lime, lemongrass, basil, garlic and ginger. I might even add tomatoes and bamboo shoots next time. If you have anything like kaffir lime leaves or galangal root, please add during the shrimp-cooking process for extra flavor.

I served mine with steamed rice.

Enjoy your curry nights, friends! xoxo

Curried couscous

Whenever I can’t think of a side dish, I reach for the couscous. Made in 5 minutes and seasoned any way you like it, this funny little pasta is great as a salad, side or something to soak up meat juices. I normally make mine with a little toasted pine nuts, green onions, parsley and golden raisins. For a recent meal that included East Indian fare, I reached for Ina Garten’s curried couscous.

It is a peculiar recipe – using yogurt, olive oil and lots of spices. I thought it tasted too sour and salty when I mixed the seasonings together, but it all worked when delicately folded into the fluffy cous.

I altered the recipe a bit to my liking – feel free to explore!

Curried Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then add stock. When boiling, add couscous and stir. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the parsley, raisins, almonds and scallions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Coconut Curry Mussels

My favorite place to buy seafood is Costco. I know it sounds corporate, but it really is a frugal gal’s best friend. (Although I recently went to an Asian market, where I opened a random cooler to find all these HUGE prawns from the coast for $5 per pound … so just take what you can get.)

I always go to Costco when I know I need good fish, because it is exactly half as much as Whole Foods for comparable product. Recently, I went for 2 lbs. of mussels. Instead, I left with 5 pounds of fresh mussels for $10. I know they were fresh because only a couple didn’t open after cooking (dead).

After soaking them in water sprinkled with a little flour (so they will spit out the grit), these beauties performed beautifully on one pretty weekend. First, I made the following coconut curry dish with half. Next, I made them in a simple garlic-thyme-white wine broth. Each played well with the mussels’ delicate flavor.

This recipe made a wonderful Saturday lunch with crusty Costco bread and a glass of crisp wine.

From Simply Recipes.

Coconut Curry Mussels

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded (pull those little hairs on the side out!)
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Thai chili, finely chopped (or pinch chili flakes)
  • 3 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste (which has kaffir lime leaves in it, yum!)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 fl. oz.)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped into four pieces and smashed
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Place mussels in a bowl of cold water with a sprinkling of flour, so the mussels will spit out any sand or mud. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat. Debeard the mussels, pulling out their byssal threads (aka: their “beards”) and place them in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and stir for a few minutes until they become soft and slightly translucent. Add the chilies, ginger, and curry paste and stir for a minute until fragrant.

Add the chicken broth and reduce by half. Add the coconut milk, salt, lemongrass and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, reduce heat to medium and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the mussels open. Discard any that are closed as these were dead before cooking. Spoon mussels into bowls and pour over broth. Garnish with chopped cilantro and juice from lime wedges.

You are guaranteed to love this – it’s so light and fresh, you feel full but not stuffed. I would say it’s rather elegant, too, if you have someone to impress…

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Curried pork chops

This dish is so easy, you can make it after coming home from the bars late one night. Not that I would know….

It is basically a curry marinade that would work awesome with all meats, including chicken, shrimp, tofu, whatever. You marinate the meat and then bake it and serve it over rice. Easy! Just be sure to adjust the cooking time so you don’t overcook your meats. The taste is really yummy.

I got this recipe from my Thai cookbook.

Curried Pork Chops

Ingredients:

  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T red curry paste (I used Taste of Thailand)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 pounds pork chops
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving.

Whisk oil, soy sauce, curry, honey and salt in large bowl. Add pork and toss to get the curry all over. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Or not…

Preheat oven to 350. Place chops in baking dish, pouring sauce over the top. Bake for 20-30 min., until tender but cooked. Serve over rice, spooning over more sauce and garnish with lime wedges (squeeze over the meat, if you wish).

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Penang curry

Make-you-own Thai takeout

My favorite place to find new cookbooks is the Barnes & Noble discount section. There, I find all sorts of beautifully photographed books for all cuisines. Recently, I picked up “The Big Book of Thai Curries” by Vatcharin Bhumichitr. It is food porn for Thai lovers.

I used this new book to make a Valentine’s Day dinner for my sweetie, who happens to love penang curry with tofu. The cookbook is authentic enough to have recipes for making the curry from scratch – but I don’t have a mortar and pestle, and I’m lazy. So I just bought some red curry from Whole Foods. I also picked up a box of firm tofu, a can of coconut milk, basil and fresh kaffir lime leaves (fun fact: the book tells me that kaffir limes have very little juice and they look like really bumpy limes).

I could not believe how yummy this dish turned out, and so close to what I’ve been ordering at Thai restaurants. Maybe most Thai restaurants use store-bought curries, too? (Another fun fact: the biggest difference between Thai and Indian curries is that Thai curries are “wet” or fresh, and Indian curries are dried)

I’ve rewritten the recipe to our liking and availability of ingredients…please try this if you don’t have any aversion to coconut milk (it can upset some people’s tummies)!

Chicken-tofu penang curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk (not low-fat)
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 1/2 T red curry paste (I used Thai kitchen)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced thin
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves, depending on size
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 20 basil leaves, chopped or torn (about one large bunch)
  • Cooked white or brown rice (start this first because the meal cooks quickly)

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 4 T canola oil and add tofu, browning on all sides. Beware of splatter! When done, set aside.

In a small saucepan, gently heat coconut milk until steaming and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T oil. Add curry paste and stir-fry 2 min. Add chicken and stir-fry until lightly cooked, about 5 min. Stir in tofu, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar. Mix for 2 min. Add lime leaves, chilies and basil. Stir until basil is wilted and the flavors are combined, 5 min. Taste to see if it needs more sugar.

To serve, spoon rice on a plate or bowl and top with the curry. Garnish with extra basil leaves. (And do not eat the lime leaves). This serves 4-5.

I hope this book helps me get over my fear of Asian cooking – I already have a pork recipe picked out for later this week, so stay tuned!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Butternut squash soup

Curried squash with apples and onion

Roasted butternut squash soup is another example of sweet mixing with savory flavors in a lovely dinner entrée. The squash’s natural sweetness blooms when you roast it, along with crisp apples and sweet yellow onions. The soup has surprisingly few ingredients, but the important one is curry powder. Just half a teaspoon completely changes the soup – and even though it may look like baby food, it becomes most certainly adult.

It is also a very healthy soup because it is meat-free, butter-free and cream-free.

Here’s a fun fact: squash last forever! I think I bought my butternut squashes on Oct. 5, 2009. Still good, four months later. Glad I saved this warm recipe for a snow day.

Ina Garten uses all sorts of curry condiments to top her soup: bits of banana, toasted coconut, roasted cashews and green onions. I opted for the onions. Know what else would be good? Fried shallots. Duh.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into thick chunks
  • 2 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick chunks
  • 3 T EVOO
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2-4 c. chicken stock (1 box)
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder

Preheat oven to 425.

Toss squash, apples and onion together with olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Place in single layer on sheet pan (or two) and roast 35-45 min., tossing occasionally, until very soft.

Process the vegetable mixture in food mill or food processor, adding chicken stock to help it become a coarse puree. Place the pureed mixture into a soup pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Heat to a simmer, adding curry powder and S&P to taste.

Serve hot with a slice of bread and a sprinkling of scallions.

Puree to your desired consistency

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Indian cashew curry

IMG_4576

I had avoided making Indian dishes in the past because they just never taste like the real thing. Adding a little curry powder to chicken and vegetables isn’t the same as mixing your own spices, toasting them and then simmering them with meat and herbs.

Then I found this great book in the discount section of Barnes & Noble: The Best Ever Indian Cookbook (375 recipes, all with color photographs depicting each cooking step). It’s like the Cook’s Illustrated for Indian cooking!

I recently made this delicious dish that is complex with spices, but not too peppery, and makes plenty for four adults. If you want more heat, I would add red pepper flakes. It is strongly flavored, but what else would you expect?

Chicken in Cashew Nut Sauce (adapted by Write Gal)

2 medium onions

2 T tomato paste

1/2 c. cashew nuts (unsalted, if you can find it)

1 1/2 tsp. garam masala (in the spice aisle)

1 tsp crushed fresh garlic

1 tsp chili powder

1 T fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp kosher salt

1 T plain yogurt

2 T canola oil

2 T fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 c. golden raisins

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cubed

1 1/4 c. water

Long-grain or Basmati rice

Cut the onions into quarters and pulverize in the food processor for 1 min. Add the next nine ingredients, through yogurt, and process until smooth, like a pesto.

In a dutch oven or other heavy pan, heat the oil over medium and add the spice mixture, frying for 2 min. When it’s lightly cooked, add half of the cilantro, raisins and chicken. Stir-fry another minute. Add the water, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook over low heat for 10 min., or until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is thickened. The chicken will be tender and perfect.

Meanwhile, as your house fills with those amazing aromas, make the rice according to package instructions. I also heated some naan bread in the oven at 400 with olive oil, salt, cumin and paprika.

To serve, spoon rice, then add the curry and top with more cilantro and sliced naan.

According to the book, each portion has less than 300 calories and very little fat. Not bad for a filling, savory meal!

I will definitely be making this again, as Jesse helped himself to two huge portions (brain food). I get that craving for curry now and again – and when you live in certain regions, it’s best to make your own ethnic foods. :)

Enjoy, friends! xoxo