From around the age of ten to eighteen, I played clarinet. For the majority of these years, I was a member of a clarinet ensemble that would rehearse every second Friday night. Over the course of those almost-eight years, I transitioned from being one of the youngest members (which entailed a tendency to get attacks of the giggles on a regular, and likely very irritating, basis) to one of the most established and mature (hah! I still display a remarkable tendency to get the giggles…) clarinet players in the group.
What never changed, however, was my mother’s unfailing kindness in ensuring I had a hot dinner and, if I was lucky, dessert waiting for me when I arrived home at 9pm, tired from the rehearsal but also hyped up on the tea-with-four-billion-sugars that I would drink with my friends during the rehearsal break.
For some reason, the dish most intertwined in my mind with those late clarinet-playing nights is mum’s green curry chicken. I remember the strong smell of coconut enveloping me as I walked in the front door, and I remember the rich sauce soaking into basmati rice as I chatted to mum about my ability to fit eight spoonfuls of sugar into one tiny disposable polysterene cup of tea.
The recipe you see pictured above (and below), which I cooked with the Cookbook Challenge Spice theme in mind, is not a green curry chicken. It is, however, a chicken curry recipe that involves spices and coconut milk, and is best served over rice, so it’s almost the same thing. Right?
More importantly, this Sri Lankan Chicken and Cashew Curry is what I made for my parents upon their return from three weeks in Japan, so that they wouldn’t have to worry about cooking while they readjusted to the Aussie time zone and normal life. Sometimes what goes around comes around, in the best possible way.
Sri Lankan Chicken and Cashew Curry
From Curry in a Hurry
See the other Cookbook Challenge Spice recipes here
- 1 tb coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 8 curry leaves, or 2 bay leaves
- 3 tb vegetable oil
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 4 – 5 chicken thigh fillets (could easily be made vegan by substituting tofu/tempeh/seitan/extra vegetables)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/2 tsp crushed ginger
- 1/2 tsp crushed chilli
- 1 whole clove
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- Put the coriander, cumin, fennel and curry leaves in a medium frying pan or wok, without oil. Place over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the spices are browns and aromatic (about 2 1/2 minutes). Pour into a spice grinder (Hannah’s note – I used a mortar and pestle, old-school style) and grind to a fine powder.
- Add the oil to the pan and fry the cashews until golden brown. Removed with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cut the chicken into 2cm cubes and brown, in batches, in the same oil until golden brown and partially cooked (about 3 minutes). Remove.
- Brown the onion over med-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilli, and cook for 30 seconds. Next add the clove, cardamom, cinnamon, and ground spices (Hannah’s note: the original recipe didn’t say when to add the ground spices, so this is just where I thought it made sense to add them!) and cook briefly.
- Stir in the coconut milk and salt. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer for 1-2 minutes, then return chicken and cashews to pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Serve over rice, preferably accompanied by hyperactive chatter from a family member.
Question Time: Did your parents have a special dish they’d cook for you to support extra-curricular activities? (Wow. That’s a rather specific question…)