My Mum, Alexandrina, was an amazing cook. She had an uncanny ability to replicate things she tasted in restaurants throughout our travels. She was constantly clipping out recipes from magazines or writing down a list of ingredients on an index card. She stuffed her favorites into a cheap little card file you see pictured to the left. I cherish this box because the very sight of it fills my heart and mind with visions of my youth. I can smell the aromas of the foods my mother would make and picture vividly sitting at the table enjoying every bite.
An all time favorite in our house was chicken curry. My dad first acquired at taste for curry in Malaysia and my mum got a basic recipe from a friend that had also spent time there and in India. The recipe is more of a British-styled rendition but it is absolutely delicious and oh so simple to make. My mum’s recipes were never about exact measurements so I play around with quantities when I make things.
I use humanely raised, organic chicken breasts and thighs purchased from either Whole Foods or my local Farmer’s Market. I realize I preach a lot about choosing ethically raised meat, but the significance is huge. Please make an effort in 2010 to make better food choices when possible. It takes a lot of drops to fill a bucket but everyone can contribute to change!
I used 3 breasts and 4 thighs this evening. I leave the skin on because it keeps the chicken more tender but you can remove for less fat. Other ingredients include one each: tomato, green apple and yellow onion along with 2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 tablespoon of chutney, 1/2 cup of raisins and a pinch of chili powder. Finely dice the apple, tomato and onion and place all ingredients (including the chicken) in a nice big pot with a cup or two of water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about an hour. Once the chicken is tender, remove it all from the pot and allow to cool down. Remove skin, take meat from bone and place in a separate bowl. Check the pot and remove small bones that may have fallen off during cooking. Taste for season check and add salt to taste. I sometimes add a little extra curry powder if needed at this point. I also pick out the raisins – I love the flavor of them but there is something about the texture that gives me the willies! – Brit saying :) http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/willies
If the apple and onion are sufficiently cooked down, thicken using 2 tablespoons of flour with water. Add some chicken stock or bullion. I use an organic one from Whole Foods. Add the chicken piece back to the pot and simmer on very low heat. This dish should be served over white rice – I use Jasmine or Long-Grain but you could choose brown rice if you prefer it. Place rice on the plate and spoon chicken and sauce over it. In India or Malaysia curry is often served with side dishes such as peanuts, fruit, coconut, etc… My mum’s rendition included mandarin oranges, tomato, apple, chutney, pineapple, banana and anything she happened to have around that she fancied. I know it sounds bizarre but the flavors contrast the spiciness of the curry seasoning. Spoon selections on top of curry. It’s actually delicious. I made this one mild because my friends Renee & Jordan (seen in photo at right) are not particularly good with really spicy dishes. I added crushed red peppers to mine because I like things extremely spicy. I also have to carry Rolaids where ever I go!
We wanted to sample several different beer styles to see what paired best with the flavors in the dish. We selected Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Hop Stoopid (8% ABV) a Imperial/Double IPA, Bison Brewing Organic Farmhouse-style Saison (5% ABV), Witkap-Pater Abbey Singel(Brouwerij Slaghmuylder-6% ABV) and Brasserie DuPont Avril, a very light (3.5% ABV)Saison-style table beer.
Renee really liked the light contrast of the Avril to rich flavor of the curry. All three of us liked the Witkap and noted the sweet malt and lemon brought out the complexity of the curry spice. I enjoyed the Bison Saison combination of fruit and spice. It really brought out some of the flavors in the curry. The Hop Stoopid was also very good but all three of us seemed to move to it as the finishing beer for the meal. In the end, we liked all of the beers and agreed it was amazing how different the food tasted when sampled with the different beers.
There is no right or wrong with beer and food pairing. You should let your senses run wild and explore all the amazing possibilities. If you like it, that is the important thing. I adore the endless possibilities of beer and food pairings and celebrate the sheer delight of flavor explosion in my mouth! This is what I love about craft beer. It’s all about the journey…