Cashew Coconut Chicken Curry is an easy one pot meal that is hearty enough to keep you warm in the winter and healthy enough to make after the holidays. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
So far 2019 is as frazzling as 2018. Harrumph. On a serious but more general note, I learned my thyroid was definitely full of cancer and already spreading. Some lymph nodes and a muscle were removed, which is a good thing because it turned out the cancer had spread to them. What this means now is I will need to go in for a scan to find out where in my body thyroid cells may have migrated to–meaning where any cancerous cells may have migrated to. This is not as scary as it sounds, although I agree it sounds awful, as I will then take a radioactive iodine tablet, which will hone in on these cells and destroy them. I will also be radioactive for a short time which basically means staying away from my family. The girls and I are disappointed that I will not glow green.
Apropos of nothing, I just figure everyone needs a ridiculous upside down German Shepherd face after discussing cancer.
In the meantime my last week was also a complete pain–and the reason you did not hear from me–because I woke up 10 days ago with a completely swollen thumb. We’re talking quadruple the size of my normal thumb, people. And then it got some red spots and my whole arm started hurting so I went to urgent care. They put me on an antibiotic that absolutely wreaked havoc on my GI system. As I have mentioned many times, GI disturbance is the worst for food bloggers because you do not want to look at or think about food. So that is why you have not heard from me–and I have a doctor’s appointment in a week to discuss other painful finger joints and because while the swelling went away the thumb pain is still intermittently there, making typing difficult. Who the heck knows. Getting old sucks. I would believe anything at this point–heck the endocrinologist nurse today actually asked me about gout!?
So for goodness’ sake let’s talk curry people! When I found the base of this Cashew Coconut Chicken Curry in Rawia Bishara’s Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking from Tanoreen I fully intended to make it with the tahini it called for. But when I was downstairs looking for the tahini in our basement pantry, my eyes passed over the cashew butter. The incredibly expensive cashew butter that I was completely intrigued by–and never opened. Don’t tell my husband but yes I admit I have some issues this direction. And it is truly not that I am not interested in the fancy product, whatever it may be. Actually it is that I have this awful “save it for something special” mentality that means whatever it is never gets used. I checked the date, the cashew butter was (barely) still good, and I figured one pureed seed/nut butter could sub for another. So please if you are horrified by purchasing pricey cashew butter for this dish, use something else! Use tahini, use peanut butter, use almond butter, use any pureed seed or nut butter…. I would not hesitate to try any of those. Obviously they will not taste the exact same, but as long as you like them, they will be fine in a curry.
This is a fusion curry, meaning it obviously has Indian or Anglo-Indian antecedents with its use of curry powder, but it is from a Middle Eastern author. Yet I could not make myself use flat leaf parsley in it as the author did. And I love and use flat leaf parsley all the time, but not in a curry. To me a curry needs cilantro–and maybe some other fresh herbs, but for whatever reason in my head not parsley. So feel free to make that change also and report back. You can even tell me I was nuts and the parsley was delicious!
I have made this Cashew Coconut Chicken Curry twice and both times people went nuts (no pun intended) for it. It is different enough to be delicious for a simple dinner party but it is easy enough to be made for just your family also. It is healthy but filling and hearty, which is perfect for January in my mind. It has enough vegetables that no other dish is needed (except for cooking the rice of course). Like all curries it is quite adaptable, so use whatever proteins and veggies you have around and report back!
Adapted from Rawia Bishara.
- 6 T mild curry powder
- 1 T cumin
- 1 T coriander
- 1 T turmeric
- Several pinches saffron (optional)
- 1 T black peppercorns, freshly ground
- 1 t green or yellow cardamom pods, freshly ground
- 1 t coarse salt
- 2+ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 6-7 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 4 T minced garlic cloves
- 2 T minced ginger
- 1/2 t red chile pepper paste
- 1/2 t aleppo pepper
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, chopped into chunks
- 6 cups water
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
- 1 15-oz can full fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cup cashew butter
- juice of 3 limes, plus more later
- 1-2 T honey, to taste
- 1 cup chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
- chopped roasted cashews
- chopped cilantro
- lime wedges
- Serve with basmati rice
Whisk together the spice mixture ingredients. Divide it in half and rub half of it into the chicken thighs. Let them rest for 20 minutes.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large, heavy pot like a Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown the chicken thighs in batches to prevent steaming. When they are browned remove them to a wide bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into the pot.
Add the chopped onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and scraping at the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck bits, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red chile pepper paste. Add another pinch of salt and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper and the remaining half of the spice mixture and stir to roast the spices. Let cook for another minute.
Add the butternut squash chunks and stir to coat in the aromatics and spices. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the chicken back in along with any accumulated juices. Then add the 6 cups of water and cook for 10 minutes, covered.
Add the cauliflower florets and stir in. Reduce heat to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
While the curry is simmering, whisk together: the coconut milk, cashew butter and lime juice.
At the end of the 20 minutes simmering time, whisk the coconut milk mixture into the curry and bring back to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Mix in 1 cup of chopped cilantro and 1 tablespoon of honey. Taste for more honey, more salt or more lime juice.
Serve over Basmati rice and garnished with chopped cilantro, chopped roasted cashews and freshly squeezed lime juice.
This dish originally had tahini, crushed pineapple and flat leaf parsley (among other smaller changes). It is entirely possible my changes made it more Indian and less Middle Eastern!
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