Spiced Coconut Chicken

This recipe suffers from a mild identity crisis - stuck somewhere between Indian, Thai and Malay style foods.

The secret is the late addition of fresh toasted coconut and fresh herbs which gives the dish real zing. Shredded dried coconut can be substituted for fresh but the real thing makes a big difference in this dish.

Curries make for great camping food and add a little variety to the camp side menu.

This dish suits two hungry people. Just double or treble the ingredients to feed more.

Spiced Coconut Chicken
Ingredients (2 people)

2 skinned boneless chicken breasts, diced into 2cm cubes

1 tablespoon ghee or cooking oil

3 whole cloves

4 green whole cardamom pods

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds

10 curry leaves

1 bay leaf

1 x 5cm cinnamon stick

1 large brown onion, sliced into paper thin rings

2 cm cube fresh turmeric, minced or ½ teaspoon ground

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cm cube fresh ginger, minced

1 fresh red chilli, minced

¼ cup ground cashews

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

¾ cup natural yoghurt

½ cup finely chopped mint

Salt to taste


Garnish

½ cup fresh grated coconut

½ cup whole almonds

2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

1 fresh green chilli, sliced into thin rings

1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil

½ teaspoon garam masala


Method

Heat the ghee or oil on a medium high temperature in a heavy pan and add all of the whole spices, tossing through the oil for a minute or so.

Add the sliced onion and cook - stirring frequently until the onions are very brown and nearly crisp.

Add all the minced ingredients – turmeric, ginger, garlic, chilli and the black pepper and ground cashews. Cook for 5 minutes until the mixture starts to pick up a little colour.

Turn the heat to high and quickly stir fry the chicken, coating it evenly with the spice/onion mixture. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken, cook for 1 minute and remove from the heat.

Slowly incorporate the yoghurt into the pan. Add the chopped mint, pour in ¾ cup of water and return to the heat to simmer for 20 minutes until the chicken is nearly cooked.

While the chicken cooks take another pan and toast the whole almonds over a low heat until they begin to brown and then add the shredded coconut. Toast these 2 ingredients together until the coconut has also picked up some brown flecks and begun to colour. Add to the chicken with all the remaining garnish ingredients and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with rice and a salad or perhaps a vegetable dish and Indian style bread.


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