One aspect that brings together culture, is food. Whether it be the spices or the method of preparation, food is a cultural conversation.
In such conversation is where I was introduced to cooking. There were no measuring cups or spoons, no recipie books, just a story on how to feed your family, passed from generation to generation. Conversations at holidays consisted of the women sharing their recipes with one another, “oh I use coconut milk” “really? I just add water”. Such was how I learned my own way through traditional cooking.
One of the very first recipes I learned and often a staple curry in many South Asian families, is chicken curry. I would describe this as the beginner level curry of Srilankan cooking, because it’s that simple! Here is how:
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 2-3 cardamom pods
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 2 yellow onions
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 2 stems of plucked curry leaves
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 tbsp coconut milk
- Clean your chicken breasts ensuring there is no skin left, and chop into cube-like chunks.
- Marinate your chicken with the ginger, garlic, and salt. While the chicken sets, chop your onions.
- Once the onions have been chopped and the chicken has been left to marinate for atleast 5 minutes, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Pour your olive oil, and once heated, add the chopped onions and stir until they reach a light golden brown color.
- Next, add your spices. Add the cumin, mustard seeds, cardamom pods, curry leaves. A minute later, you should hear a popping sound from the cumin needs, this indicates the spices are “opening up”, providing that deep flavour to the curry.
- Next, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir until combined.
- Add the chopped meat. Cover the meat with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once cooked, add the curry poweder and chilli powder, ensuring the meat is well coated. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Finally, add 1 cup of water to the curry, and 1 tbsp of coconut milk, to add some extra fragrance. Cover the curry once again, and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Removed from heat once cooked and serve warm.
And there you have it! Once spicy side dish sure to please the senses. Approved by yours truly- S.