Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Coconut-Curry Chicken with Vegetables and Couscous

Coconut-Curry Chicken with Vegetables and Couscous

I've been on a real cooking kick lately that involves mostly vegetables paired with a lean meat and a grain of some sort. In that vein, I made this Indian-inspired dish last week. It's basically a stew of chicken, onion, carrot, bell pepper and sweet potato served over couscous with raisins and almonds stirred in.

The ingredient list is long, but there's nothing really complicated about it. You could vary the flavors any way you like. I used both curry powder and garam masala--both of which are pretty general terms for Asian spice blends. In fact, I've seen some sources call garam masala a type of curry powder. A key difference is that curry powder usually contains turmeric, which gives it its yellow color. To my taste, it tends to be earthier, whereas garam masala is sweeter. The particular curry powder I use contains coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, bay leaf, celery seed, nutmeg, clove, onion, red pepper and ginger. The garam masala has cardamom, cinnamon, clove, cumin, black pepper and coriander.

Coconut-Curry Chicken with Vegetables and Couscous
Adapted from multiple sources, namely Couscous from The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian by Sally Butcher and Spicy Chicken Coconut Curry by Tyler Florence for Food Network

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. chicken breast meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 orange, red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt (or more or less to taste)
Pinch of red chili pepper flakes
15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
15 oz. can coconut milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 cups water
10 oz. couscous

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add 1 tbsp. of butter to the pot. When melted, add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, sweet potato, garlic and ginger. Sauté until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the curry powder, garam masala, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and red chili pepper flakes, stir to combine, and cook another couple minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, coconut milk and chicken stock. Increase heat to medium-high to bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. butter in a small (8-inch) frying pan over medium heat. When melted, add the almonds and raisins and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.

4. Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Place couscous in a bowl with remaining tbsp. of butter and a pinch of salt. Pour the boiling water over the couscous, stir to combine, then cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. After 5 minutes, remove the cover and stir to combine with the butter and fluff. Stir in the buttered almonds and raisins.

5. Serve the couscous in shallow bowls topped with a generous helping of the coconut-curry stew.

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