Monday, 27 February 2012

Cranberry & Coconut Chicken Curry

My local supermarket has been selling fresh American cranberries in sporadic bursts of late. Imported. I know about food miles but given that every other veg I buy is produced in France and some even a few kilometres from down the road, the occasional exotic fruit or veg isn't too bad, is it? So the minute I spotted them, they were winging their way (under a mile more) to my kitchen.

I usually make jars of store-ahead cranberry chutney, which I  systematically spread on my otherwise mundane work lunch sandwiches. It really takes the ordinary chicken or cheese sandwich to another level. But I think I have enough chutney to liven up my desk-fasts till the end of the school year (for those who are wondering, I am a teacher). I decided to make a soup-like curry instead.

In the subcontinent, most cooking tomatoes are sour in taste. The use of cranberries therefore acts as a great substitute for them, adding that sweet yet tart element. To balance out the tartness, I added a spoonful of honey. You should add more spoonfuls if you don't care for a sour flavour. The coconut milk adds extra gravy, making this a nice winter-warmer - just dig in with a thick chunk of bread and a soup spoon. The coconut also takes the level of sourness down a notch. Finally the cinnamon stick which is left to stew in this curry adds depth and a heady aroma to your plate.

Do I need to add that both cranberries and honey are good for you? Not to mention turmeric's digestive qualities....

Serves 3-4

500g chicken fillets cut into mouth-sized pieces
3 red onions chopped finely
3 garlic cloves & 3 cm ginger chopped finely
2 green chillies (optional): one chopped and one whole
1 tbsp of grape seed oil
1 tsp of black cumin seeds (it has a milder taste than regular cumin)
1 heaped tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of ground coriander
1/2 tsp of piment d'espelette (or mild paprika)
1 cinnamon stick and 3 cloves
Salt to taste
200g fresh cranberries
200ml of coconut milk
1 tbsp of floral honey (or to taste)
1 tsp of garam masala


1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the cinnamon stick and cloves.
2. Next add the cumin seeds and the onions soon after to prevent the former from burning.
3. When onions begin to brown, add the garlic and ginger. Continue sauteing for 3 minutes.
4. Turn the heat down, and add the turmeric, coriander, piment and salt.
5. Next add the cranberries and a little water, give the pan a good stir. Put the lid on as the cranberries will splatter as they burst in the pot.
6. When the cranberries have reduced (you want a thick but smooth paste), add the chicken. Cook for 20 minutes on low to medium heat, stirring ocassionally.
7. Taste the sauce. Add honey accordingly, stir and then the coconut milk. Simmer for a further 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle the garam masala on top and it's done.

Garnish with almond flakes and serve with bread.

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