Today is the first day of autumn—my favorite time of year! I saw on the weather channel this morning that the aspens in Colorado are vivid yellow and the northeast is almost to peak season for autumn foliage. I took the photo above of the ginkgo tree at a local neighborhood last autumn. Isn’t it lovely!
Although it is in the low 90s today here in the Memphis area, I feel certain that cooler temps are on the way. First of all, I saw a huge yellow oak leaf floating to the ground early Sunday morning and yesterday, I was almost electrocuted getting the sheets out of the dryer. Both are sure signs the seasons are about to change.
Autumn signals warm days and cool nights perfect for hearty dishes such as stews and my chicken curry. Now, I must confess that I love to watch others cook, I love cooking shows, and I love to cook for company, but everyday cooking is not for me. Most chefs say that the best tools in the kitchen are hands; however, I think the best tools are spatulas. Anyway, as part of our endeavor here at Tartan Apparel to Live to Play for many, many years to come, I think I better come up with some easy every day healthy dishes. I will share them with you and I will put them into a binder (and later a book) titled "Everyday Dishes for Those Who Love to Eat but not so Much to Cook." Okay, I am still working on the title.
My chicken curry recipe is one that I tweaked a little from the eggplant curry recipe my mother-in-law gave me recently along with a jar of some wonderful garam masala. It is a recipe that I go to time and again and it is perfect for fall because of all the aromatic spices. It smells divine while it is cooking!
1 Pound Chicken Tenders cut into ½ to 1 inch cubes
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. Coconut oil (or more olive oil if you don’t like coconut oil)
1 Medium Onion diced
1 Red or Green or Yellow or Orange Pepper (any color will do) seeded & diced
1 Can Diced Tomatoes drained (Reserve the liquid for the spice mix.)
1/4 Cup Water (I use the reserved liquid from the diced tomatoes)
1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk (I tried this recipe with coconut milk from a carton but it was too runny and had less flavor.)
Spice Mix – Here are the ingredients for the spice mix- Mix it up before you start cooking because the recipe goes so fast there really isn’t time to measure it out while cooking- As a matter of fact, it is best to ready all ingredients before you begin cooking this recipe—
1 Tbsp. Ginger (I use the kind from a squeeze jar.)
1 ½ tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. ground Turmeric
1tsp. garam masala (I am not sure of the brand my mom-in-law gave me—sorry)
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Salt (plus additional salt & pepper for the chicken)
1 ½ tsp Tiger Sauce (It’s with the steak sauces in our local grocery store.)
¼ tsp Black Pepper
¼ - 1/2 tsp Chili Paste (This is a personal preference.)
Mix all ingredients of the spice mix with the ¼ cup reserved liquid from the diced tomatoes (or water).
It is a good idea, especially for us non-chefs, who might not be able to think on the fly, to get everything ready before beginning to cook.
Once you have everything ready, put the olive oil, diced chicken (season with extra salt and pepper (I use garlic and herb mix on my chicken)), diced onion, and diced pepper into a skillet and cook on high heat until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the onions and peppers are soft.
Here’s what it looks like when it’s cooked through.
Next, add the drained tomatoes, 2-3 Tablespoons of coconut oil and the spice mixture. TURN HEAT DOWN TO MEDIUM, STIR, AND LET THE MIXTURE COOK FOR 5 – 8 MINUTES. If you don’t do this, the curry will not have a good flavor—it will be mundane at best. When it begins to smell divine, continue cooking on medium heat 2 – 3 additional minutes, stirring as needed. This part of the process allows just enough time to fix a cocktail as the dish is almost coasting at this point--
Lastly, add the can of full fat coconut milk and let it coast a few more minutes.
Finish up your cocktail while it continues to simmer. Here’s what it looks like when it is done:
Serve over cauliflower “rice” or real rice and enjoy! I used cauliflower rice.
Here’s how I made the cauliflower “rice.”
I used my food processor (A gift from my mom. Yes, my mom was optimistic that I might one day love cooking as much as she did.) to grind up the cauliflower florets.
Next, I placed them on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Stirred them around and cooked them in a 350 degree preheated oven for 8 minutes. The goal is to get a bit of the water out of the ground florets. We want our “rice” to absorb the curry rather than water it down. I made the mistake the first time I made this dish of putting the ground cauliflower in the microwave to cook. It came out looking a bit wet and did, indeed, water down the curry. The oven is the best way to go for cauliflower rice for this dish.
My husband asked me why I didn’t video this segment. Since I am not a chef, I don’t have great knife skills and my kitchen always looks like a cyclone hit it while I am cooking. There were little bits of cauliflower everywhere! I am working on those skills so stay tuned and Live to Play!