intrepid archaeologist, avid cook

Coconut curry chicken with quinoa

Sorry, I have been so lazy and absent the last month.  I know, I know, you are dying to know what I have been doing in the kitchen.  Well, the answer is not a whole lot.  Forces have conspired to make me work late and fix things in a crockpot, and other forces conspired to make those things less than tasty….namely that DH has no idea what to do in a kitchen.


last night I had a pound of dark-meat chicken (nice and cheap, I usually get about 10 pounds of chicken chopped up from the butcher and freeze it in individual packages, which make it even cheaper – and apparently no one likes dark chicken meat except DH, so the butcher always has a lot to sell for not a lot of money).  So I have all this chicken, and I stood in the middle of the kitchen, staring at this chicken and not knowing what to do with it.  I thought maybe stir fry…

I walked into the pantry, intending to get materials to make a stir fry, some water chestnuts, soy sauce, rice vinegar, etc.  and I saw the cans of coconut milk, waiting, inviting me, calling my name… and it hit me.  I want coconut something.  I thought curry.  I do not know how to make coconut curry.  I looked on the internet.  All of the recipes I found were for Thai food (no surprise) but I have nothing to make Thai food with, no curry paste, none of the chilis, no fish sauce. Thai was out.  I do have some very nice curry powder I picked up on my last trip to Kenya (it is probably the same as any you get here, but damnit, I think it is BETTER).

I chopped some onion and garlic and put it in the pan, added the chicken and browned that.  I dumped on the curry powder, added some other things that I like the taste of, and then, with a short prayer to the chef gods, dumped in the coconut milk and deglazed the pan.  Immediately, the coconut milk turned a beautiful tan color and the kitchen started to smell like heaven.  I knew I had made the right decision.  Now, what to serve with?

Back into the pantry.  Quinoa.  I have it, I don’t make it nearly enough, and it seemed like a good idea, but not on its own.  Keeping with the theme, I grabbed the shredded coconut and put it on the counter.  I started the quinoa and stared at the coconut.  WTF am I going to do?  I thought.  I struggled.  I won’t lie.

I didn’t have any raisins or cashews which I really wanted.  (I know what you’re thinking, you have kids, how do you not have raisins? Well, kids are the reason I don’t have them.  Little Girl had found and eaten them all earlier in the week).  So, no raisins or cashews.  So I decided to go with carrots and apples as compliments to the coconut.  I grated them (also keeping with a theme) and after the quinoa was done cooking, I just mixed them in.  I served it with a pile of the quinoa salad and the chicken and sauce on top of that.  I was worried about the sweet, and warned our guest C that the entire meal was an experiment.  I wasn’t guaranteeing that it would taste good, but I wasn’t going to apologize if it wasn’t.

I was surprised at how much I like it.  I was also very surprised by how much my kids liked it.  Little Man sat in his highchair yelling for more, which meant there were no leftovers to savor over lunch today, but I am OK with it.  (It’s hit or miss with him sometimes…).  C said it was a successful experiment and even DH got over the weirdness he felt over the quinoa (which he never remembers ever eating before) and said it was not bad.  I think cashews would make it amazing – next time.  I liked how the savory of the coconut curry complimented the sweet of the quinoa salad, and the flavors of the salad brought out the flavors in the curry sauce.  In all, successful on all fronts, except picture taking.  Sorry guys – if I make it again, I promise I will take some photos.

Chicken coconut curry:

1 lb chicken, cubed

1/2 – 1 cup onion, chopped

1-3 cloves garlic, minced

3 T curry powder (invest in this, and get something from an Indian grocery, I think it definitely tastes different)

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper flakes

1/2 t cumin

pinch coriander

14.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk (you might be able to use fat free)

1 cup broccoli, chopped


1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

pinch salt

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup grated apple (try to get a tart type)


Add the onion and the garlic to a large skillet on med-high heat.  Add the chicken and brown the hell out of it.  Add the curry powder, salt, pepper flakes, cumin and coriander and mix into the chicken well.  Add the coconut milk and deglaze the pan.  Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat.  Let it simmer and the sauce will thicken.

Put the quinoa, water and salt into a small saucepan.  bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered till the water is absorbed.

When the water is half absorbed into the quinoa, add the broccoli to the curry – cover and continue to simmer.  You can add the broccoli whenever, but too soon and the broccoli will get very soft.

When the water is absorbed into the quinoa, add the shredded coconut, grated carrot and apple.

pile on the quinoa and top with the chicken curry.

enjoy, it is SO good.


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