West Indian Chicken Curry

West Indian Chicken Curry1

There’s an Ethiopian restaurant in my town that’s been here for a pretty long time but I still have yet to try it out. I’ve heard wonderful things about the food there, but the truth is that despite my love for cooking when it comes to my habits of eating out, I usually tend to stay within a specific ‘comfort zone’ of restaurants and joints that I already know of and like. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

Maybe it’s just because I take my food SO seriously and there are few things I can think of that can get under my skin than an unsatisfactory meal. It’s seriously enough to put me in a bad mood for the  rest of the day/night. I don’t play about my food.

West Indian Chicken Curry2

What’s strange is, although I’m wary of trying out new food that I pay other people to cook for me, I’m the complete opposite when it comes to food that I make myself.  Unless it just ‘sounds’ nasty or has an ingredient that I don’t care for, I’m almost always willing to try out a ‘different’ or ‘new’ recipe. If I think it sounds challenging or will teach me a new technique, I’m going to want to at least give it a shot. I realize that may sound like a huge contradiction. I think maybe it has something to do with my knowing that even if there’s something about the dish that I don’t care for initially, I will probably be able to salvage it so that it’s at least edible.

West Indian Chicken Curry4

Sometimes I’m not only willing to try out a new recipe/dish, I’m also willing to go the extra mile for it. That’s pretty much what happened with today’s post. I’d had it on my radar for a while, but had put it off because the ‘extra mile’ in this case was two things that I didn’t already have in the house: a curry powder made almost completely from scratch containing fresh whole spices, and a coffee grinder and/or spice mill to grind said spices up after they were toasted.

One day I was feeling particularly restless with our dinner rotation and decided to just go out on a limb. In short, I bought a coffee grinder then made the trek out the new Whole Foods that FINALLY  came and opened in my town, where I was able to get my hands on all the spices that I needed. I rationalized it with the logic that there ARE other recipes I want to try that require me to grind up spices, and that since I am a fan of this type of cuisine, I can always find another use for the leftover ones I had over from this recipe.

West Indian Chicken Curry7

Then, I actually made the dish and came to the very hasty conclusion that I really didn’t need to find any other justification for my going the extra mile and buying a whole appliance just to cook one meal.

Why? Because that one meal was absolutely delicious.

Holy moly, guys.

Even if I never use this coffee grinder for any other purpose BUT to make this curry, I will still not regret having bought it one bit. It was just SO worth it, from start to finish. The smell of the spices toasting in the skillet after I ground them up gave me the feeling almost from the start that the flavors of this dish were going to be phenomenal. It made me kinda not even care that turmeric has the ability to stain your counter top/dishes/hands for a LOOOONG time unless you scrub really super duper hard at them.

West Indian Chicken Curry3

I know that typical curries are made with whole, bone-in chicken pieces cut up. However, my go-to preferred way of preparing just about ANY chicken dish is using the good ‘ol boneless/skinless breast. It’s just what I like. However, this recipe is versatile enough to where if you wanted to go darker and use bone-in thighs or drum-sticks and remove the meat at the end, it should be perfectly fine.

Another important note: my older sister can’t do very many spicy foods, so I was forced to leave out some of the chili flakes and leave the Scotch bonnet peppers out entirely. Be warned: Scotch bonnets can pack a SERIOUS punch of heat and are therefore, not to be trifled with all willy-nilly.  There’s already ground up chili flakes in the curry powder itself, so I recommend that you taste and adjust according to your ability to take the heat. Also, because chickpeas and corn were all that I had in the house at the time, that is what I used to here. Fortunately, I can easily see you subbing in any other vegetable of your preference and it still turning out fine.

This is one of those dishes that taste even better as leftovers because the flavors have time to meld and permeate the meat the longer that they sit. The sauce is just DIVINE y’all. Have plenty of naan/flat bread on hand for dipping.

I’m linking this post to Fiesta Friday #117, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Scarlett @ Unwed Housewife.

West Indian Chicken Curry

Recipe Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed dried chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • About 5 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 hot pepper, such as Scotch bonnet or serrano, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste (optional according to preference)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, drained

Directions

In a medium skillet or saute pan combine the turmeric, chili flakes, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, ginger, garlic powder, mustard seeds, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until spices are fragrant and just beginning to smoke. Remove from the heat, transfer to a shallow plate and allow to cool completely.

Transfer to a coffee grinder or spice mill and process until very finely ground. Reserve 6 tablespoons of the spice mixture separately and transfer the remainder to an airtight container and save for another purpose.
In a mixing bowl combine the chicken, 2 tablespoons of the curry powder, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and set aside, covered, for 20 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and, when hot, add the chicken pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, hot pepper if using, and remaining 4 tablespoons curry powder and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally about 1 hour. After about 1 hour, add the corn and chickpeas and allow to cook until chicken is very tender and falling from the bone and the sauce has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about an additional 30-40 minutes.
Serve chicken curry with naan flat bread and/or rice.

Chicken Shawarma Fattoush Salad

Schwarma Fattoush Salad1

There a few foods for me that- if they were actual living and breathing men- I would almost definitely be having a torrid love affair with. That’s how much I love them.

First, there’s pancakes. Pancakes are the bad boy- the guy I KNOW is so bad for me. So, so SO very bad. (Like all the sugar and carbs in the pancakes that are so terrible for my thighs and derriere.) But he’s also the one that can make my entire day just by making an appearance. He’s the one I can’t turn down or resist. He’s so bad, that he starts to actually feel good. For me, if pancakes were a man, he’d be like Johnny Depp, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Tom Hardy all rolled into one. Seriously,  how am I supposed to resist that?

Schwarma Fattoush Salad2

Then there’s the iced sugar cookie. This is the ‘older guy’;very handsome and sweet, classic, traditional and dependable. Like a fine wine, no matter how old he is, I never get tired of him- he gets better with age. He’s great in just about every way, but still probably not the one I should be with just because he’s so much older than me ( just like I probably shouldn’t indulge in sugar cookies all the time). But I’m still drawn to him because, hey he’s awesome. The iced sugar cookie for me in “guy-form” would be somewhere in between George Clooney, Idris Elba and Jimmy Smitts- thus, explaining my ongoing obsession with it.

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Then, there’s chicken shawarma and fattoush salad. Good news: this is the ‘good guy’. The ‘nice’ guy. The one I don’t have to feel guilty for being hooked on, because he’s actually great for me in a lot of different ways. Stable, wholesome, considerate and just full of good stuff. I can give it all I have with him and take all I can get because I know it won’t hurt later. Chicken shawarma and fattoush are kinda like that too-I’m hooked on them, but I don’t ever have to feel guilty for craving/eating them because hey, there’s never any harm in eating white meat and veggies, right? Yeah, chicken shawarma and fattoush salad is like Ryan Gosling or Chris Hemsworth. (Sigh).

Schwarma Fattoush Salad4

And now that I’ve beaten that metaphor to death, I may as well get on with the actual point of this post.

Chobani yogurt is just awesome,isn’t it? Not just because of the taste, but also because of the  versatility of the yogurt as an ingredient- you CAN do more with it than just open the lid and dip into it with a spoon. Right now Chobani is holding a #MadeWithChobani Project that shows all the different ways that yogurt can be used in every day cooking. It unites food bloggers in a collective effort to use Chobani yogurt to create a healthy, but still delicious recipe. I definitely wanted to be apart of this project; I thought about doing something sweet- let’s face it, it’s easier to make a sweet dish with yogurt, especially since Chobani has so many delicious sweet flavors. However, I eventually decided against it, opting instead for a more savory application. This is what I finally came up with, and I have to say, I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Schwarma Fattoush Salad5

The best chicken shawarma and fattoush salad I’ve ever had comes from an awesome Middle Eastern restaurant in Ann Arbor. It’s just so, so, SO good. Because I don’t live near Ann Arbor, I don’t get to eat there very often, but I have to say that this recipe gives me a pretty good -tide-me-over. What makes this distinctive from the restaurant is that instead of keeping the dishes separate from each other, I combined them together in one healthy, delicious salad.

This dish just wouldn’t be what it turned out to be without the Greek yogurt (and I’m not just saying that). It makes the chicken SO moist and tender.  So don’t skimp and buy some cheap, non-name brand yogurt. It’s not gonna come out the same. You need a good, creamy, high-quality yogurt for the shawarma marinade.

For all of you that are on Twitter, feel free to check out the hashtag #MadewithChobani for some other awesome recipes! Also, if YOU have some ideas for creative, healthy recipes using Chobani, then go ahead and visit Chobani.com to find out how you can join the #MadeWithChobani Project as well 😉

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Chicken Shawarma Fattoush Salad


Recipe Courtesy of Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 32 oz. Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup shawarma spice mix (like Ziyad)

Fattoush Salad:

  • 1 romaine heart, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 half baby cucumber, sliced into halves
  • 3/4 cup diced shawarma chicken
  • Small handful of pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 pita, toasted & broken into chips

Fattoush Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. sumac
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions

1. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice and shawarma mix in a large bowl. Place the chicken in a resealable Ziploc bag(s). Pour yogurt marinade over the chicken and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off the excess. Discard marinade. Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray and place in chicken breasts. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until thickest part of breasts reach temp of 165°.

3. Allow chicken to rest for about 10 minutes out of the oven, reserving ALL of the juices it gives off while baking. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat with a few tbsp. of vegetable oil. Slice the chicken breasts against the grain into small strips or chunks and immediately toss in the reserved pan juices. Saute chicken in hot skillet, about 3-4 minutes in a single layer until the edges just begin to turn brown and crispy. (You may need to work in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan).

4. For Salad Dressing: Combine water and sumac in a small jar or bowl and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Add remaining dressing ingredients, taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

5. For Salad: Combine all ingredients and toss with desired amount of dressing. Serve.