Things have been pretty busy over here at chez Wicked (awesome) Whisk. Consequently we have been falling back on our standard repertoire of grilled or roasted meats served alongside rice / quinoa and a vegetable. This does not exactly make for exciting blog fare. Lately, the monotony has been getting us down and we are working on reinvigorating our meals, starting with this dish.
According to Saveur, this recipe comes from a home cook in Mombasa and includes an ingredient that I feel is widely underutilized in American cooking, coconut milk. Coconut milk is one of those inexpensive ingredients that when used, makes you feel like you are suddenly cooking in any number of exotic locales. It is wonderfully fragrant and has a light taste that pairs beautifully with chiles and any number of fun spices like turmeric, curry, etc. It adds the richness of cream to a dish but without the cooking challenges associated with cream. We always keep a can in our pantry and often use it when we make curries. When I came across this recipe, I knew it was one that I had to try.
You can adjust the heat of this dish by cooking the chiles whole (very little heat), or throwing in the seeds and membranes with the rest of the chile (lots of heat). The turmeric is a must, it gives the dish an earthy flavor and a crazy-awesome bright yellow color. The total time to make this dish is about 45 minutes but the active time is pretty short. Once you pop the chicken in, go ahead and play with the kids. It only needs occasional attention until it is done.
Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk (Kuku Wa Nazi)
Adapted from Saveur
2 tbls cooking oil
3/4 tsp group turmeric
2 cloves garlic minced
2 green or red Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced (or left whole if you want very mild spice)
1 medium ripe tomato, cored and minced
1 small red onion, minced
2 chicken leg quarters (2 leg and thigh sections), skinned
2 tbls fresh lime juice
1 14 oz can coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cilantro and chopped peanuts for garnish
Heat oil in a large, deep pan (a cast iron skillet works nicely) or pot over medium-high heat. Add turmeric, garlic, chiles, tomato, and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add chicken, lime juice, and coconut milk to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, turning chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes.
Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Garnish with lots of chopped cilantro and peanuts. Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are. Recipe can easily be doubled.