Yummy Chicken Curry With Baked Coconut Rice


Masaman curry is  a favourite of ours. We have a local Thai T/A up the road that we sometimes turn to in times of need (or times of greed). We always order the Beef Masaman because it is delicious. We’ve ordered it elsewhere and nothing quite rates. I pointed out to kid that one big difference is the potatoes. You can tell when the potatoes have been cooked in the curry (as opposed to boiled in water and added separately) because they take on the flavour and they’ll start to break down ever so slightly to thicken the sauce a little. It really makes a difference.

This curry is a loose interpretation of that. I have replaced beef with chicken and potatoes with pumpkin just because I felt like it. It’s also a good way to get  pumpkin down our little darlings’ throat without any fuss. I’ve added beans too for that ‘green’ element, you could use peas or snow peas or spinach or whatever.

Baked coconut rice is a really easy way to do good rice. Baking means it doesn’t have to sit on the stove top and burn on the bottom. It will cook evenly due to the lack of direct heat. This should work in a rice cooker also but I don’t have one so I’ve never tried. The coconut adds an element of decadence without being too rich. If you can find long-life tetra-pack coconut cream then use that instead. It tastes better. I’ve used tinned because I couldn’t find the other on short notice and it tastes really good anyways.

Chicken and Pumpkin Curry – serves about 4

500gm diced chicken breast – using free range is better on many levels. Use what you can, I won’t judge.
1 small piece of Japanese pumpkin – skinned and diced
250gm green beans – top and tailed , 2-3cm batons.
1 stick celery – sliced thin
1 tablespoon Masaman curry paste – see notes
250ml coconut cream
1/2 bunch coriander – washed and picked
2 lemongrass sticks -bashed and them tied in a not – see notes
1 teaspoon sweet soy.

Add a little oil to a medium sized pot or deep fry pan. Add the chicken, pumpkin and celery and a little salt. Sauté these until the chicken turns white all over. Add the curry paste and stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated the paste becomes fragrant. Add the stock, coconut cream and lemongrass then simmer gently until the chicken is cooked and the pumpkin has JUST started to break down a little and thicken the sauce(like the potatoes in the afore mentioned beef curry). Finish with the soy and coriander, discard the lemongrass. Serve with rice and a wedge of lime. Masaman is traditionally served with chopped peanuts on top and tomato and cucumber on the side. Up to you.

You need 1 cup basmati rice -see notes.
2 cups coconut cream – or 1 cup coconut and cup water (stock will work also).
4 kaffir lime leaves -buy them fresh and freeze what you don’t use.
1 tspn oil.
Put a an oven proof pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, rice and bruised lime leaves. Stir until the rice starts to turn clear and you can smell the lime leaf. Add the liquid and a little salt. Cover well and bake on 160* for 30 mins. Remove from the oven but DON’T remove the lid (foil will work also) for a 15-20 minutes. You need to allow this standing time for any excess moisture to be soaked up by the rice. Remove the lid and fluff gently with a fork.
Baked coconut Rice

What Kid Did
Washed and picked the coriander (she is always doing this it seems), stirred the pot occasionally, had a great time watching me bash the lemongrass with a hammer, picked the beans. Helped with photo shoot. She loved this dinner, especially the coconut rice.

*Pumpkin – Japanese is best for this dish. Buy a small piece already cut from the pumpkin so you can see the colour of it. The flesh should be a deep orange colour.
*Masaman curry paste – I always use one of the Asian brands available from my local fruit shop. Try an Asian supermarket or gourmet deli otherwise. I’m not normally down for brand naming but use Maesri or Mae Ploy. The generic supermarket brands will not give you the curry you deserve. These are brands that my chefs from Sth East Asia trust. You could successfully replace Masaman with yellow, green or red pastes. If you use green, add fresh green basil leaves instead of coriander.
*Swap the chicken for chick peas and replace the chicken stock for veg stock or water to make a great vegetarian option.
*Basmati – Jasmine would do too. Basmati has a better GI level.
*Lemongrass – It is really fibrous and inedible. Lay it out flat on a chopping board and gently tap it until it is soft and pliable. Tie it in a not so it stays together and is easily removed at the end.

Taco Taco Taco

Tacos are just everywhere at the moment. A massive rise in the popularity of Mexican/Tex-Mex street food has put tacos on the radar. They are incredibly easy to do at home and don’t have to be greasy, cheesy junk food. On the contrary, tacos can be a healthy well balanced meal that you don’t need to slave over. You can use hot or cold fillings or both. There are plenty of jobs for the kids to get amongst and at eating time everybody is involved in the making of their own dinner. You can choose hard of soft shell (if you have kids familiar with the second Kung Fu Panda movie this theme will get them involved) and put whatever you like in them.

Tonight I have my GF and my big brother coming for dinner. Gf is vegetarian (and hot) and so tonight we all are. Gladly. We all have good appetites so I’m serving 2 fillings –French lentils w/ eggplant and chipotle or Crushed chickpeas w/ olives, beans and lime along with guacamole, cottage cheese, hommus and a little shredded ice berg and mayo salad. And my very own home-made hot sauce. We are having both hard shells and soft corn tortillas, available from supermarkets. Gluten free varieties are easy enough to find for those friends with requirements.

French Lentils with Eggplant And Chipotle
1 cup dried French/puy lentils, soaked for at least 2 hours (overnight is better)and well drained.
2 celery sticks – small dice or slice.
5 garlic cloves- crushed.
1 medium eggplant -cut in half lengthways then 1cm or so slice.
3 anise stars.
2 tspn ground cumin, 2 tspn smoked paprika.
1 tblspn crushed chipotle chilli.
1 cup washed and picked coriander leaves.
1 tin crushed tomatoes or 6 ripe red tomatoes roasted and pureed. The first option is quicker and richer, the second option gives a fresher lighter flavour.
Olive oil. Plenty.

I start with the lentils – simmer them gently in lightly salted water until tender (about 10 mins-depends on how long you soaked them for),drain and rinse them well.
Meanwhile I’m sautéing celery and garlic in olive oil until soft and fragrant, adding more olive oil and then the eggplant. The eggplant will be thirsty for that olive oil – use enough to cover the bottom of your pan by 2-3mms, turn the heat up a little. When the eggplant is brown and soft I add spices and the soaked and cooked lentils, the chipotle and finally the tomatoes. Simmer gently for about 30 mins. Remove the anise stars. If your mix is too wet it will be awkward in tacos. Finish with a little S&P and chopped coriander. Just like that.

Crushed chickpeas w/ olives, beans and lime
1 cup dried chickpeas -soaked for at least 2 hours (overnight is better)
10 cloves garlic – crushed.It seems like a lot, but go with me here. Or leave some out.
1 red capsicum – de-seeded and 1/2 cm or so slice.
250gm green beans – topped and tailed- cut into 2-3 cm pieces. Blanched.
(I lower them into the chick pea pot for 30 seconds using a small strainer. Rinse under cold water)
1 cup of your favourite olives- pipped and broken up a little
Juice of 2 limes
2 spring onions – sliced
Salt and pepper

Cook the chick peas in lightly salted, boiling water until tender (about 30 mins, depends on soaking time,)drain and rinse them well.
In another pot I sauté garlic until golden. I add a little salt to the garlic whilst cooking to bring out the flavour and the sweetness. Next the red capsicums, sauté until soft. Next the soaked and cooked chickpeas. I use a fork to smash the chick peas against the side of the pot as they’re cooking to break them up a bit. Next the olives and blanched green beans, finishing with some spring onions, S&P and lime juice. Done.

Picfixies4Guacamole is made in advance and refrigerated, ice berg lettuce shredded and mixed with a smidge of Jap mayo that I happen to keep in the fridge.
The table is arranged with plates for everybody, plenty of napkins, the cottage cheese, hommus and hot sauce (totally optional).
And then most importantly the taco shells go in the oven until crunchy, the soft tortillas go under the grill to get all toasty like.
Then we’re ready to eat.

The Wash Up
There was plenty of food for the four of us with some of the fillings left over for mid week snacks. The chipotle is spicy on its own but quite mild overall. There is plenty of variety in flavours and textures. Next time I’ll have the taco shells on the table first so the fillings don’t get all eaten whilst waiting.


What Kid Did
Kid and I find plenty to do together tonight. The coriander needs washing and picking. The garlic needs crushing – Kid uses a garlic press. The guacamole needs mixing. The lentils and chick peas need soaking . The green beans need picking. The table needs setting


Wash herbs or lettuce by submerging them in cold water, remove by lifting out of the water and then drain well. You will see any residue left in the bottom. It’s particularly important with coriander as it holds a lot of dirt that you don’t want to eat. Right kids!

Other quick and easy filling suggestions
*Boil/Bbq some corn on the cob, scrape the kernels off and toss with a little olive oil, chopped coriander and toasted pine nuts.
*Sauté kidney beans with a little onion, garlic, chipotle (or regular) chilli.
*Chop some tomato, cucumber and mint. Add a little lime juice and toasted pepitas.
*Leftover roast chicken – pick it off the bones, shred it, add a little mayo, spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.
*Grated carrots w/ dukkah, lemon juice and olive oil.
*Leftover bolognaise or savoury mince.
*Grilled white fish broken up with a little mayo or tartare.
*Lightly dressed coleslaw.
*Anything you like.                                                                        


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