Posts Tagged ‘Curry’

There are few people I know who love food, who do not love a delicious creamy curry dish.  Unfortunately, as we all know, they aren’t the most healthy dish.  The main reason for this is what makes them so delicious… coconut milk.  Coconut milk is delicious, sweet, creamy, and the perfect counterpart to the sharp and spicy flavors of a good curry paste or powder.  This delicious nectar of the southeast Pacific Gods is seemingly perfectly created to support the lives of the struggling people who have lived in that region for so long.  One can of coconut milk falls in at a whopping 640-700 calories per can 81% of which comes from its 63 g of fat…

A pork and peanut curry I made with the coconut milk alternative

Now that may have been great for the impoverished vegetarians of southeast Asia who work from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep.  But I’m thinking it probably is not so good for us lazy Americans.  So how do we get around this without giving up curries?  Well I have found a pseudo way around over half of the calories and 57 grams of the fat.  To the left is one example of a Thai style curry I made with my little short cut secret to maintain the taste and integrity of the dish while being healthier.  It works very well, so well you probably wouldn’t know the difference if I didn’t tell you.

So here is my secret to a healthy coconut milk alternative, followed by an Indian style shrimp curry I made the other night….

Healthy Coconut Milk Alternative

1/4 c. sweetened angel flake coconut

1 can 2% evaporated milk

Place the coconut in either a blender or a food processor and add the milk.  Blend for 10-12 seconds and let the coconut “steep” for about an hour.  Strain the milk to remove the coconut puree, and use as directed for coconut milk.

The coconut in the food processor

The coconut and milk post blending, ready to sit

My Healthy Curry Mise (plus the requisite cooking cocktail...)

Healthy Shrimp and Spinach Curry

1/4 c. peanut oil

1/2 c. onion, finely diced

1/2 c. red bell pepper, finely diced

1/2 c. carrot, thinly sliced on the bias

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

1 tbs curry powder

1 tsp garam masala powder

1 can of Healthy Coconut Milk Alternative (see above)

1 lb shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined

2 c. finely shredded spinach

First begin by heating a wok over high heat, add oil and wait until the surface of the oil “dances.”  Add the vegetables and stir fry until the onions and peppers have cooked but not browned, and the carrots are beginning to soften, as below.

Veggies in the wok, softened, and ready for seasonings

Add in the garlic, ginger, and the seasonings and cook, stirring for 30 seconds to a minute, until the seasonings have released their aromaticity.  Reduce the heat and add in the Healthy Coconut Milk Alternative.  Bring to a slow simmer as below, and stir occasionally to eliminate a skin and prevent scalding for 5-10 minutes or until thickened.

A gentle simmer to thicken the sauce

Once thickened nicely, add in the shrimp, increase heat to medium high, and cook until shrimp are almost finished… between 5-7 minutes (look for them to be turning a gentle pink, but still vaguely translucent).  Once the shrimp are within 2-3 minutes of being finished, add in the spinach and continue to cook for the final 2-3 minutes, just enough to finish the shrimp and wilt the spinach.

All done cooking, spinach gently wilted

At this point all that is left to do is pour some over some rice and, as always enjoy…

Healthy Shrimp and Spinach Curry

Healthy Shrimp and Spinach Curry

Just for the record, final stats come in (1/4 prepared recipe with 3/4 cup of rice) at 459 calories per serving… so Enjoy!!!


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A few nights ago I was searching for a dish to make that would allow me to use my new enameled dutch oven. I had made a braised veal dish earlier in the week (recipe coming soon) and was looking for something in a different direction. After an hour of flipping through the Joy and Julia I finally stumbled upon her chicken fricassee recipe. At first this was just cause for further turning of the page (I had made this dish a number of times, and while delicious wasn’t quite exciting enough to inspire me off the couch), when I noticed in the variations section following the recipe a variation involving curry powder. That was the only change made to the recipe, add curry powder. While this still was no giant couch spatula, it did inspire me to sit up and start drafting.

I feel it necessary, albeit ashamedly so, to admit that until recently I had an aversion to curry and maybe even avoided trying it. I had always associated curry with the terrible smell it has as it leaks out of the pores of people who overuse it in their diet, or the pungent traces of it baked into the wall boards of an apartment that has never had a dish prepared without it. Thus, against all of my foodie instincts, I avoided curry dishes. Only recently have I started to branch out into this fantastically flavorful branch of eating, and decided after the simple suggestion in Julia to take my venturing one step further and make my first curry dish.

After a good amount of time of drooling over the prospects, I settled into a recipe idea, and figured… I might as well see where it goes and if it sucks we get sushi.

So here it is, and by the way… no sushi was ordered this night:

Curry Chicken Fricassee:

Curry Chicken Fricassee

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. spanish onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. red bell pepper, roughly diced

1/2 c. carrot, thinly sliced rounds

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp Lowry’s

1 frying chicken, cut up, skinned, ribs spine and breastbone removed (can be substituted with 3-4 lbs boneless skinless breasts of thighs)

2 tbs curry powder

1/4 c. flour

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed

2 c. chicken stock

5-6 dried red chili peppers

2 c. pearl onions, skin removed

3 c. baby spinach, stemmed

1 tbs garlic, minced

1/2 c. coconut milk

Heat a large casserole, enameled dutch oven, or other fireproof covered dish large enough to hold the chicken in one layer over medium heat and melt 4 tbs of butter in the casserole.  Add the sliced onions, red bell peppers, carrots, white pepper and Lowry’s to the pan and slowly cook until carrots and peppers have softened but not colored.  Remove from casserole.

Add 4 tbs of butter to the pan and increase heat slightly.  Place chicken in a single layer and flip every minute for 5-6 minutes until the chicken has firmed slightly and the meat is a golden yellow.  Coat both sides of the chicken with the 2 tbs of curry powder, lower heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes flipping halfway through.

While chicken is cooking, place stock and tomatoes in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Coat both sides of the chicken with flour and roll in butter to coat flour with cooking juices and butter.  Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes flipping halfway through.

Remove casserole from heat, add vegetables back to the dish, hot peppers, and pour tomato/stock mixture into the casserole to just cover the chicken.  Shake casserole to thoroughly mix liquid and flour mixture.  Return to heat and bring to a slow simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

While chicken is cooking place pearl onions in a covered pan with the remaining stock/tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and cook while chicken cooks, shaking occasionally to prevent burning.

Just before chicken is done, saute garlic in butter for 1-2 minutes, add spinach, stir, cover and cook 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

After 30 minutes, check the chicken for doneness and remove from casserole (tent foil over chicken to keep warm.)

Bring sauce to a simmer in casserole, scraping up all the good stuff on the bottom and reduce to half of the original volume or until sauce has thickened nicely.  Add pearl onions, spinach and 1/2 cup of coconut milk and simmer for 5-10 minutes longer.

Pour sauce over chicken and serve with rice.

And as always… Enjoy!

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