14 May 2006

TSIR #2: Vanilla Kurma

A few weeks ago Barbara over at Tigers and Strawberries posted Sweet or Savoury, the next Spice is Right theme. Basically, take a spice and use it in a (new) way to you.

It wasn't that long ago when anything around here beyond the standard s&p with a few token herbs and spices was considered "exotic." Being raised on South Indian food, most of what I ate fell into that strange and extremely satisfying category. My mum did her best to figure out Canadian food: sometimes dinner was successful, sometimes it wasn't. All of this is to say, between Canadian and Indian traditions, I've grown used to meals where ginger, cardamom, cloves and other spices appeared in both main and sweet dishes.

So what to do?

Well...with all the reading I've been doing for the
2006: Not So Vanilla series, I've come across a few savoury vanilla dishes. I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever (knowingly) eaten a savoury food that used vanilla.

At first I looked for vanilla chicken recipes. Unfortunately, most of what I found reminded me of Marge Simpson's butterscotch chicken (the treat she mentioned she’d make for Bart after he came back from the dentist)--they could be interesting or they could be...well...gross.

So I decided to get creative...sort of.

I also decided to try and do this one sans assistance. Since my ankle didn't bother me until the very end when the time came to serve, I thought I did very well. I let the exbf take care of the serving ceremonies. It felt so good to be back in the kitchen again. Unfortunately, that feeling was short-lived as later that week
I re-injured myself.


I took a look at my standard Chicken Kurma recipe and decided to play with it a little. I made it milder, switched out the cashews for almonds and, of course threw in a vanilla bean.

I think I'll call this a recipe-in-training: far from perfect, but there's potential. Since I was rather tentative as to exactly how much standing I could do, my shortcuts—pre-ground almonds and store-bought grated coconut—leave me wonting a revisit, but doing it properly (fresh coconut and whole nuts) and allowing me to play with the coconut-nut ratio. If anyone decides to try this and finds ways to improve upon it, please let me know. I think this kurma would do well with pork or prawns as well.
The result wasn't too bad-- a mild, chicken curry with a lovely vanilla scent, served over steaming basmati rice.

Vanilla Chicken Kurma
50g grated coconut
50g ground almonds
1 dsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2cm ginger, grated
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
300g tomatoes, chopped
1 handful coriander leaf, finely chopped
1 18cm/7” green chilli, minced
1 pinch vanilla salt
1 25cm vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2T sour cream
900g boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cubed

Ground masala:
1t garam masala*
2dsp coriander seeds, ground
1t cumin seeds, ground
0.5t ground black pepper
0.25t tumeric

Putting it together
1. Combine the coconut, nuts, oil and enough water to form a medium-thick paste; set aside. If you are using whole nuts, put the coconut and nuts into a grinder and blitz until thick, then enough add water until it reaches a tapenade or pesto-like looseness--you shouldn't need any oil.

2. Fry the shallots until light brown in about three tablespoons of oil over med-high heat. Then stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for about a minute. Tip in the tomato, coriander leaf, ground masala and garam masala, vanilla pod and seeds, vanilla salt and about a half-cup of water. Fry until the tomato melts, turning everything into a paste.

3. Add the sour cream and stir until it dissolves. Tip in the chicken and coat thoroughly in the sauce; let the pot come to a boil. Turn down the hob to about med-low, cover the pot and let simmer until the chicken is fully cooked—this will take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes. Taste for salt

4. Add the coconut past to the mixture and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

To serve, garnish with some toasted almond slivers, golden-fried shallots and a few leaves of fresh coriander leaf.

* Ideally you’d make your own blend, but if you have to buy it, try and go to an Indian grocer as they may have different blends available.



Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees


Anonymous said...

Great to hear your ankle is feeling better, Jasmine.

I love that you used vanilla in the dish. Well done!

K and S said...

this sounds really good!

hope your ankle is getting stronger!

take care.


Anonymous said...

Oh, yummy! I'm saving this recipe!

I hope your ankle progresses again.

Take it easy,

Sam said...

Hi Jasmine,

That looks incredibly yummy. Thanks again for the wonderful and thoughtful package.

Anonymous said...

hello there. that looks very nice and also I will link you up on my queechef blog. since honestly i am new to food blogging and didnt know much of the other food bloggers. cheers!

Anonymous said...

and also get well soon on your ankle!

Journal Actif said...

Oh I missed this TSRR !!! I really run after time lately. :-((

This sounds delicious Jasmine. The ingredients list is right in my moroccan alley and the vanilla is very intriguing.

jasmine said...

Hello all--thanks for the kind words re: my ankle :)

Ivonne: Thank you m'dear.

K&S: It turned out much better than I thought.

Paz: I know you'll be able to improve upon it--let me know what you come up with :)

Sam: I am so happy you liked the package--thanks for the kind words on your blog :)

Chas: Welcome! I think it's safe to say that we foodbloggy types are a pretty friendly (and hungry bunch)--just start wandering through links and through foodieblogs--I'm sure you'll have fun.

Zoubida: TSIR is going to be monthly, with the deadline on the 15th of the month. My guess is in a week or 10 days Barbara will post the next theme. And like Paz, I expect you to improve upon this :)


Anonymous said...

Oh Jasmine, how creative! Wow, I can only imagine how heavenly your kitchen must have smelled when you were preparing this dish!

Anonymous said...

golly, this sounds really, really, really good!

Anonymous said...

Actually, vanilla is commonly used in dishes with crab or lobster as the main ingredient! My favorite is simply steamed lobster or crab with vanilla butter. Just clarify some butter and add a touch (tablespoon for ever stick of butter) of vanilla extract. It's amazing what vanilla will do for crab and lobster.