: Chicken & Corn Curry.

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Recently, we visited Dempsey’s Corner Orchard,  just 5 minutes from our house.

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For just $2 per person, we could spend the day and “eat of any tree” we wanted. You might say we had more freedom than Adam and Eve did.

Sorry, that was corny.

Speaking of corn, have you ever eaten a cob fresh from the stalk? One that you picked yourself? If not, you really should try it! As if all the beautiful fruit wasn’t enough, Dempsey’s also had a corn field for the customers to pick all that they wanted. It was fantastic! So juicy and so much sweeter when it is fresh! After eating a couple of these, we decided to purchase some for our supper.

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There is nothing wrong with plain boiled corn on the cob but this time I wanted to do something different. This fresh and tasty corn was worthy of something else. After thinking about it, I decided to use it in Opor Ayam, which is an Indonesian style chicken curry. Opor is enveloped in this rich, spicy, coconutty sauce.

I could write poetry about this sauce.

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This Opor Ayam recipe is not authentic. Instead, it suits our preferences. Normally, a whole chicken is cut up to make this. Also, one traditional recipe calls for 15 dried chilies….nope, not a typo.  Fifteen!!

I’ve only made this a couple times before, and only in one pot. It is terrific and easy just like that. But this time I did it a bit different.I finished it off in my cast iron casserole, adding the corn from Dempsey’s.

The corn, after cooking in the sauce and soaking up the spices, tastes spectacular!

Using breasts make this healthier. Boneless also make it kid friendly.  Because I have omitted the bone and darker meat, I have sacrificed some of the flavour. I’m ok with that. Feel free to use bone-in chicken, and thighs also, if you want. Just add a few minutes to the initial cooking time.

Not authentic, but very delicious anyway. This would appeal to someone who can’t handle too much chili. This is spicy but not very hot. You can make this using 1 chili if you prefer, without losing much flavour. The chili does balance out the sweetness and richness of the dish.

Ingredients:

2 ½   lbs boneless and skinless chicken breasts  (aprox 5 breasts)

2 shallots

1 tbsp diced ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 bulb lemon grass, sliced

2 dried chilies

2 tbsp coriander

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp dried onion flakes

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp tomato paste

½ cup chicken stock

1 can coconut milk

3 or 4 Dried kaffir lime leaves (optional)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

4 large corn cobs, parboiled for 5 minutes and sliced (or 2 cups of vegetables of your choice)

Method:

Grind shallots, ginger, garlic, chili, and lemon grass into a paste. Cut chicken breasts into large chunks (cut each breast in 3 or 4 pieces).

Over medium heat, heat oil in a large pot and fry spice paste until fragrant. Add the coriander,cinnamon stick, curry, turmeric, and onion flakes. Stir. Add tomato paste and salt with a little water (just enough to keep spice paste from burning).

Add chicken to the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Frequently scrape spices from bottom of pot, and toss chicken pieces around to brown them. Add a bit more water if things start to stick.

Pour in coconut milk, chicken stock, and add lime leaf to the pot.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes. * preheat oven to 370 degrees at this point * Uncover pot and reduce heat to medium-low setting.

Cook a further 15 minutes. The sauce should appear thicker by then and some of the red coloured oils will start to separate at the top. If this hasn’t happened, continue cooking until it does.

Now transfer this to a deep, 3 ½ to 4 quart casserole dish and add in vegetables.  Don’t waste 1 drop of the precious sauce, scrape it all into the casserole! Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.

I used 4 cobs of sweet corn that I previously parboiled and cut into slices. Sliced carrots would also work, or cubed sweet potato, or any sweet ‘ish’ vegetable.

Cover the casserole and cook in 370 oven for a half hour. Remove and give a gentle stir before serving.

Serve with rice or potatoes.  I recommend bread for sopping up the sauce!

Serves 6-8.

This is delicious just as it is, but if you wait one more day, it’s infinitely more yummy!

Just keep it sealed in the fridge (if you can delay digging in!)

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: Chicken Curry

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Curry is one of those recipes which is hard to get wrong. And it’s one of those dishes that is 100 times tastier the next day, if you can manage to save some. It was one of the first ‘ethnic’ dishes I could make by memory, as the ingredients are few and simple to prepare.

Sometimes I add a sliced carrot to mine. Peas also work. I like to add  whole spices, like cardamom and star anise, to make the curry even more fragrant. The cinnamon stick lends a bit of sweetness.

Before I married my husband I thought all curry mixes were the same. And the only curry I had been exposed to was that generic bland curry powder found in grocery stores. Back then, I didn’t know curry mixes vary by region, and that it is not solely an Indian dish.

My husband’s Malay and Javanese roots have their own versions of curry. These tend to be richer than the Indian versions. Sometimes they are ‘pedas’, or made sour by adding lime or tamarind.

To make good curry it’s crucial that you have a good curry mix. When we last visited Singapore we took home a small suitcase full of spices. Let me search for that photo and add it another time….that was crazy!!

You may use any Indian or Thai curry mix or paste that you find suitable. Indian “Madras curry” is a good one to try if you can’t find a South East Asian blend. The other basic ingredients are potato, onion, and coconut milk. Pretty simple really. It’s a great starting recipe if you want to try Asian cooking.

1 large potato and 1 pound of chicken may seem too scant for feeding 4 people, but for our family it’s all about the sauce and dipping into it with the naan. If you want something more substantial, by all means add another potato or a half pound more of the chicken.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, sliced thin

1 large potato, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks (about 1”)

1 tsp salt

2 ½  tbsp curry powder mix or 2 tbsp paste

1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast and thighs, chopped into small pieces

1 can coconut milk

water (enough to just cover potatoes)

2 tbsp oil

*If you have – 1 whole star anise, 4 crushed cardamom pods, 3 cloves, 1 small cinnamon stick (tied in cheesecloth)

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method:

Heat oil in a pot or deep wok. Fry onions until soft, add curry paste. If you are working with a powdered curry mix, add enough water to form a paste.

Once fragrant, add chicken. Stir and cook over medium heat until no longer pink (about 3-4 minutes).

Add water, bundled spices, and potatoes. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Pour in coconut milk, and cover, cooking until potatoes are softened, about 15 minutes.

Uncover and cook on low until curry liquid becomes silky looking and has thickened a bit, approximately another 15-20 minutes. Add salt at the end, to taste. Curry is done when you see some oil and spices coming to the top (oil will have turned a deeper colour of red or orange).

Serve with rice and/or warmed dipping breads, like naan. Serves 4.

*You may want to bundle these loose spices, but I throw them in loose. Later I pick out the cloves and anise, but my favorite part is scooping the curry with a cardamom pod up with my naan. I love biting down on the perfumy cardamom!

This is one of my favorite comfort dishes.

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