I hosted a few weeks ago, had some extra time, and wanted to go the theme route. My only problem was the book I chose was "Game Change," a look at the candidates in the last presidential election. Originally I thought I would pick a recipe to fit every candidate, but then I got real. So I decided to honor Obama, but that had its own set of problems: Chicago? Hawaii? Indonesia? I chose Kenya, because in Obama's book, "Dreams From My Father," he talks in depth about the impact his visit to Kenya made on him. He also talks about the food.
The menu was really interesting, and the chicken dish that follows is my type of cooking: easy to make, easy to eat. I also made the sauce early in the day, so all that was left at night was to put the chicken in the pan and cover it with the sauce. Perfect recipe for company. I liked it so much, I made it for my family a few days later, and they loved it as well.
I served it with black beans with a twist. Kenyans love coconut and coconut milk, and use it all the time. I have trouble cracking coconuts -- blame that on carpal tunnel -- so I changed the traditional recipe, and I think I will use this technique forever. I soaked a pound of black beans in a mixture of half water/half light coconut milk. I discarded the soaking mixture, and then simmered the black beans in light coconut milk until they were done. I also threw in a diced onion and come curry powder while the beans cooked.
Another side was kale -- and I held my breath, because, let's face it, kale can be a challenge. I don't know if my friends were being nice or if they really loved it, but there were no complaints. (I also had corn and rice, so I knew no one would go hungry!)
The following recipes I found online, at whats4eats. I did lighten them up a bit, because I really am trying to lose weight, and a 1/4 cup of oil or ghee would immediately attach to all the wrong places.
(Kenyan chicken in coconut curry sauce)
3 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces (I used breasts)
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 hot chile peppers, chopped
2 Tblsp. ginger, peeled and chopped
2 Tblsp. garlic, chopped
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 Tblsp. curry powder
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cups chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
2 cups light coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup cilantro, chopped
- Add the onion, chiles, ginger and garlic to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add a little water if necessary.
- Heat the oil or ghee in a large pot or wok over medium flame. Add the onion puree and curry powder and sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until cooked down. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Then add the chicken, coconut milk, salt and pepper and cilantro. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of chicken. Add more water as needed. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper..
- Variations: Some recipes add potatoes or hard-boiled eggs to the curry. The potatoes can be cooked ahead, cut into chunks and stirred into the curry toward the end. Eliminate the hot chiles for a milder dish. Or substitute a chopped sweet bell pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
(Kenyan greens simmered with tomatoes)
1 tsp. olive oil 1 onion, chopped
2 lbs. kale, destemmed and finely chopped
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.
- Add the greens in batches, sautéing each addition until wilted.
- Add the tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until tender, from 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve with a little bit of the broth.
- Variation: Add a chopped chili pepper or two with the onions if you like Makes 4 to 6 servings.