Kenya - Swahili Chicken Curry
LOTS of ginger (2 whole roots) and LOTS of garlic (3-4 HEADS of it). You’d think it would be overkill. It wasn’t! At least not for me and Justin. I love that stuff! And for me, the more of it the better, at least the garlic portion. The taste of the ginger may have been slightly strong - you know how ginger has that very sharp taste? The after taste was kind of like that.
The coconut rice was a dream! It was so flavorful, but I love coconut! So if coconut isn’t for you, regular rice is fine. The curry sauce definitely gets soaked up by the rice and I think the flavor of the curry really blends well with the flavor of the coconut. Beautiful.
2-3 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks
2 limes (juiced)
3 heads of garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp salt and pepper
4 whole tomatoes (chopped)
2 large ginger roots (peeled and chopped)
1 red onion (sliced)
3/4 cup oil + 2 tbsp
3 heads of garlic (minced)
1 bell pepper (diced)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup cilantro (chopped)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 large potatoes (peeled and chopped)
2 cups rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
In a large plastic bag or bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients together and toss until the chicken is fully covered. Let it marinade for at least 30 minutes. I marinated the chicken for a little over 2 hours, and I don’t think it would’ve made that strong of a difference.
While the chicken is marinating, puree the tomatoes until smooth, either in a blender or food processor. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Don’t worry about rinsing the food processor. Add the ginger and puree until smooth. Now you can rinse it.
In a pot over medium heat, add the 3/4 cups of oil and wait until the oil is shimmering. Add the sliced red onions. Simmer for about 10 minutes until they are start to change to a brown color and start to become crispy. Careful not to let it burn. Mine didn’t fully crisp up, but that’s okay. These are going to be the garnish to your chicken curry. Set aside on a paper towel and drain the oil.
In the same pot, add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is ready, sear the chicken, in batches, until the skin is crispy and golden. Don’t worry about fully cooking the chicken quite yet. It will simmer in the sauce. I do this in batches to prevent overcrowding. Set the chicken aside, and add more oil if necessary.
Add the garlic and pureed ginger for about 30-45 seconds. Add the bell pepper and saute until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and paste and mix thoroughly. Let the mixture simmer while stirring for another 3-5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and cilantro and give it a final stir.
Add the chicken and potatoes to the tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste if needed. Let the pot simmer for 30-40 minutes, covered until the chicken is fully cooked.
While the chicken is cooking, it’s time to make the rice! Rinse the rice per your usual method and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Drain.
In a small pot over high heat, bring the coconut milk and water to a boil. Season with salt and add the rice. Give it a good stir. Let it go for about 7 minutes before reducing the heat to low and simmering, covered for another 15 minutes. When time is up, remove the rice from the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes before giving if a fluff with a fork.
Serve the curry over the rice and garnish with fried onions.
Recipe adapted from Smithsonian Folklife Festival.