Before leaving my wonderful Dutch family my brother-in-law Henny had a huge request: curry. As a young man he lived in India as an exchange worker for some time and grew to love this dish. Now I must admit that I did not eat or cook a great deal of Indian food even as a student, even though I had quite a few Indian and East Asian friends. Being Polish, and mingling with an eclectic group of ethnicities during my college years, my friends and I ate in a largely fused kitchen, mixing spices and elements from many cuisines. Many of us had a staple favorite though – a small Thai restaurant offshooting from our campus – serving great pad Thai, amazing bubble teas and a great coconut chicken curry.
So I dug in my tastbud’s memories to recreate one of my favorite dishes from my late teens and early 20s, which included chicken, potatoes, a medly of vegetables including onions, which are high in phenolics and flavonoids – potent anticancer antioxidants, and bell peppers, which a Spanish study concluded have the most Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin) of all fruits and vegetables, alongside tomatoes. Carrots add even more carotenoids to this dish.
Along with coconut milk, which gives a good dose of medium chain fatty acids -which gives us quick energy – and lauric acid, which is very antifungal and antiviral, we have a creamy base for the curry to simmer in. A generous addition of basil and cilantro make for a perfect seasoning combo, adding a mound of favor as well as a great antibacterial and vitamin filled due. The starchy carbohydrate in this case is the potato, which, contrary to many’s belief, is a very healthy addition, packed full of potassium, vitamin B6, copper, and vitamin C, and of course gluten free.
1/2 pound (about 1/4 kilo) chicken – any part, I used deskinned legs and thighs that simmered in the chicken broth
3 potatoes – we used red skinned
2 medium onions
2 bell peppers – any color
3/4 pound (about 10 medium) carrots
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 can ( about 300 ml) coconut milk – if you have fresh coconut milk more power to you!
2 tablespoons curcumin powder
1 teaspoon basil ( I used dried, fresh is great too)
1 teaspoon cilantro – dried or fresh
salt to taste ( I used about 1 a teaspoon and a half, Himalayan)
pepper to taste ( about 1/2 teaspoon)
A large pan or wok
Total time: 50 minutes to 1 hour
To make this faster, I had already pre-cooked the chicken in broth. Cooking the potatoes in advance is also better. In any case, carrots and onions are diced into small pieces and fried in a dollop of coconut oil, onions first – until glossy, and then the carrots, also sliced and diced. I added a bit of salt with every vegetable to seal in every individual flavor. That takes about 15 minutes. Then add the washed and diced bell peppers, for another 5-7 minutes in the pan. Then in go the potatoes and chicken, along with the basil and cilantro. Let that heat for another few minutes.
The coconut milk goes in next, and a bit of simmering happens. Top that off with the curcumin ( or curry) powder and pepper, and let that simmer for another few minutes. Voila! A real feast all in the confines of one dish. Top with fresh basil or cilanto and serve. Cheers and good health!
all the vegetables looked glorious together the coconut milk that looked the most trustworthy at the local store
meal in a pan