Friday, January 29, 2016

Nightshade-Free Chicken Curry

Living in Malaysia has taught me many things: how to manage without hot water at the kitchen sink, remembering to wear closed shoes at the market, being organized about laundry during monsoon season. But the best thing about Malaysia is the food. Hands down. These people can cook.

When I came to Malaysia, I was not on any kind of dietary restrictions, so I tried everything. I even went to a cooking class, where I learned how to make traditional Malay curry. It was an amazing recipe, with a gorgeous warm earthiness from the spices and coconut milk.

Now that I'm on the autoimmune protocol, traditional curry - with its seed spices and nightshades - is off the menu. So I decided to take another look at that recipe I learned years ago and leave out the seed spices and nightshades. You know, just to see what happens. Turns out, you can make a pretty awesome curry without those things. What I did still include was the berry/fruit spices, since they are only on the "be cautious" list. They add a lot of flavor to the curry, so if you can tolerate them, I recommend leaving them in.

I also cut up and added about 2 cups of a local gourd to my pot. Feel free to add chunks of carrot, pumpkin, potato (if tolerated), or cassava. These are all traditionally used in local cooking, so the flavors will blend nicely.

½ cup high-temperature cooking oil
5 cardamom seeds
5 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (3" in length)
2 medium shallots (mine were 2" in diameter)
4 cloves garlic
100g ginger (1/3 cup)
15g turmeric root (2 Tbsp)
4 chicken drumsticks or thighs
1½ cups coconut milk
½ cup water
½ - 1 tsp salt

1. Put on your apron. Peel your turmeric root, ginger, garlic, and shallots. Put them into a blender or small food processor with a little water, and puree until fairly smooth. (I used the mini blender that came with my food processor set.)
2. In a large cooking pot, heat the cooking oil, and fry the spices for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat, and add the shallot, garlic, ginger, and turmeric pastes.
3. Cook on low heat until aromatic, being careful not to burn the mixture.
4. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Add vegetables, if using.
5. Pour in the coconut milk and water.
6. Simmer until chicken is tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Sprinkle in salt and stir well.
8. Serve hot.

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