November 26, 2010

Mild Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

It had been more than two weeks since I'd last prepared any Indian or Indian-inspired dishes, and that's a long time for us.   At the same time, I wasn't in the mood for anything really spicy, and since I was wanting to cook something new, rather than go with a recipe from another source, I used the knowledge of Indian cuisine I've developed over the past several months to toss together something from scratch. 

The result was pretty darn good, I have to say.  Juli really, really liked it, giving it five stars.  It isn't so much spicy-hot as warm and mellow, but it is nonetheless quite flavorful.  Served with some basmati rice and naan, it really hit the spot.  So, if you like curries but want something easy to make and fairly mild, or if you or someone you know has been interested in trying out Indian food but is somewhat wary due to its reputation for spiciness, this dish would be a great choice.

Mild Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

yield = 6-8 servings

15     roasted, unsalted, whole cashews + 1/2 cup for serving
2       tablespoons vegetable oil
1       large onion, chopped fine
3       mild- to moderately-hot chili peppers, chopped
1       tablespoon fresh, grated ginger
2       teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1       teaspoon ground coriander
3/4    teaspoon turmeric
1/2    teaspoon salt
1/4    teaspoon cayenne pepper
3       boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and
         sliced into bite-size pieces
2       sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1       can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1/2    can water
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed

Using a spice grinder or food processor, grind 15 whole cashews into a fine flour.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook the onion and chilis until the onion is golden-brown, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and cayenne and cook for 30 seconds, then add the chicken.  Stir-fry the chicken until it isn't pink at all, then add the sweet potatoes, coconut milk and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and let simmer 15 minutes. 

Add the peas, cook another 5 minutes, then stir in the ground cashews.   Top with 1/2 cup cashews and serve with rice and naan.

I used a type of chilis I pick up at our favorite source for Indian produce, Maria's Grocery.  They are more or less equivalent in heat to a Serrano pepper, but are a bit sweeter.  In a pinch, Serrano peppers will do fine.

By omitting the chicken and adding 1 1/2 lbs of vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or chickpeas would all be good choices), you can transform this recipe into a vegetarian dish, a mixed vegetable korma. 

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