Another great recipe using my beloved pressure cooker, but no need to run away if you don’t own one, the original method (found here)  uses a regular pan.  We’ve been so busy lately (by lately I guess I mean a few years in a row…)  that shortcuts to get dinner at the table faster are more than welcome. As long as they don’t compromise flavor. No need to worry about it in this recipe, flavorful is one adjective that comes to mind to describe it.

Chicken Curry Spinach


(adapted from Bon Appetit)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used grape seed oil)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 + 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 cups chicken broth
5 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat or in your pressure cooker. Season chicken with salt. Working in batches, cook chicken, reducing heat as needed to prevent over-browning, until golden brown on all side.Transfer to a plate.

Add butter and shallot to drippings in pot; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until soft and fragrant. Stir in ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chickpeas and chicken broth. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover pot and either braise it in a 325 F oven for about 50 minutes, or cook under pressure for 15 minutes.

Quickly release the steam (or place the closed pan under running cold water in the sink), and when the pressure equalizes open the pan. Return the pan to the stove, add the spinach and simmer for a couple of minutes until wilted. Stir yogurt into cooking liquid, mix gently and serve right away, sprinkled with fresh cilantro, if you like.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  I absolutely love the way pressure cooking intensifies the flavors of a sauce, and this one with all the warm spices and the chickpeas turned out quite spectacular indeed. The recipe made so much sauce that even after leftovers were enjoyed at lunch, a little sauce remained. I went at it with a spoon on day 3. Yeah, that good.  And, of course the time-saving aspect is hard to be neglected…

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This recipe could be served quite simply with a slice of naan bread, but I opted for cauli-rice and some snow peas sautéed in olive oil and a little mint. We ate like the King and the Queen… except for the fact that we did the dishes afterwards. I doubt royalty deals with such mundane issues. Their loss. Doing dishes can be a lot of fun. All you need is the right music in the background…



ONE YEAR AGO: Curry Cardamon Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, March 2014

THREE YEARS AGO: Boeuf Bourguignon for a Snowy Evening

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chickpea Salad

FIVE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

SIX YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche


This recipe was published in Food and Wine magazine back in February 1999. Yes, you read that right, over 16 years ago, when I was only a teenager (in my heart, that is). But someone recently raved so much about it in a cooking forum that other members decided to make it, and next thing I knew, they were raving about it too. I had to join the party and try the recipe myself. However, I modified it a bit, incorporating some tips from our graduate student Aritri (born and raised in India so she knows a thing or two about curries). I also opted by making it in a pressure cooker. No need to run away screaming. If you don’t have one, I’ll share instructions to make it in a regular pan. I am nothing if not accommodating. You are very welcome.

Black Pepper Chicken Curry1
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced Serrano chile
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup raw cashews, divided
juice from 1/2 lemon
fresh parsley, minced

In a bowl, combine the coriander with the cumin, peppercorns, turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the chicken and rub with the spices to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1/4 cup of cashews in a small food processor and process, not too fine. Reserve.

In a large deep nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the shallots and saute’ for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the chicken, ginger, Serrano chile and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is golden, about 8 minutes. No need to cook through.

Stir in 1/4 cup of the coconut milk, the water, and the processed cashews, then transfer to a pressure cooker and cook under pressure for 15 minutes. Quickly release the steam (or place the closed pan under running cold water in the sink), and when the pressure equalizes open the pan.  If using a normal pan, simply cover the pan and simmer until cooked to your liking (at least 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of cashews and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut milk, the lemon juice and the fresh parsley to the chicken and simmer, stirring. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the cashews; serve immediately. 


to print the recipe, click here


Seems familiar? The same photo was in my previous post…  

Comments: After so many years of blogging, it’s hard not to repeat statements from previous posts. For those who follow my blog for a while it will be old news that I like to cook chicken thighs longer than most recipes specify. Super tender is what I shoot for. Exactly the same goes for pork ribs. Some people prefer to have a firmer texture in both types of meat, so if you are part of that team, reduce the cooking time.  For instance, in a pressure cooker, you could get by with 10 minutes, in a regular pan, 20 minutes (which is what Food and Wine magazine recommends in the original recipe).

Pressure cooking is fantastic for recipes such as curries, stews, soups, and chili (made one recently in 20 minutes that was absolutely spectacular). Until a couple of  months ago I made the mistake of keeping my pressure cooker in the basement, bringing it to the kitchen only when I needed to make a batch of black beans, or maybe cook some artichokes in a hurry (pressure cooker works wonders on artichokes).  Out of sight, out of mind. Not anymore. It is now sitting in our appliance rack and I am always finding ways to use it. It makes life so much easier, many recipes that are not feasible on a weeknight because they would take too long become a breeze to prepare.


This curry turned out wonderful! It is interesting how the humble black pepper offers a heat different from any other type.  Aritri also suggested that we add ground chili to the curry, but I was afraid it would be too hot for our taste, so I went without it. Keep her suggestion in mind if you make it, I think a little extra heat would not hurt the outcome. I hope you try this recipe, make sure to have some rice to fully enjoy the delicious sauce, or if you prefer to keep the carb content low, a cauli-rice  or a cauli-mash will work just fine…

ONE YEAR AGO: Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

THREE YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp


One of the features  I like the most in Fine Cooking magazine is their section called “Cooking without recipes.”   They pick a particular dish, say,  risotto or meatloaf or lasagna, and  dissect it into its basic techniques, helping you devise your own take on it.  A recent issue (number 110) offered an overview of Thai curries,  including poultry, seafood and vegetarian, from spicy to mild, with all sorts of aromatics to round out their flavors.  If you love curries – and who doesn’t? 😉 –  get this issue and start experimenting.   Here I share with you my first interpretation of a chicken version, that ranked high on the yummy-ness scale.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Fine Cooking)

1 can of coconut milk  (13.5 oz)
1/8 to 1/4 cup red curry paste
1 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 Tbs lemon zest
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs  cut into 1/4-thick bite-size strips
3/4 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed well
2 cups asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
salt to taste
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves

Shake the can of coconut milk, open it and stir well if not completely smooth.  Transfer 1/2 cup of it to a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken it up.  Don’t worry if it starts to separate.  Add the red curry paste, whisk for a minute, then add the broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, and the rest of the coconut milk left in the can. Bring to a simmer over high heat, and add the chicken pieces.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, ginger, asparagus, and garbanzo beans.  Simmer for 5 minutes, adjust seasoning with salt if necessary (fish sauce is salty, you may not need to add additional salt), sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and serve right away over white rice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Cooking the chicken in the sauce (instead of sauteing it first) saves a messy step that’s particularly hard to deal with in a tiny kitchen, where I’m working with a two burner hot plate.  Plus, the meat turns out very tender and juicy this way.   Of course, if you prefer chicken breast instead of thighs  then substitute, but something about the velvety texture of chicken thighs makes them more appropriate for this type of recipe.   Once the meat is cooked   add the vegetables that you like (some of which might profit from a previous parboiling: potatoes, butternut squash, carrots);  as long as you pay attention to their cooking times, they’ll be fine.

Keep in mind that different brands of curry paste vary considerably in their spiciness.  If you’re new to this ingredient, then start with a small amount, taste, and add more according to your level of tolerance.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Zen and the Art of Risotto

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I love Indian food, but I don’t cook it very often. It’s easy to make mistakes with ethnic foods, because of the many “variations” that, in the name of “simplifying” or “adapting” the dish to an  American palate, wind up doing more harm than good. Indian food is prone to this kind of abuse.  Search for “chicken curry” and you’ll find all sorts of recipes:  some might have you add a little curry powder to pieces of sauteed chicken breasts, and call it a day!

When I want to “go ethnic” I search the advice of experts.  In the case of Indian food, I like Madhur Jaffrey, as well as excellent food blogs like Monsoon Spice , Sailu’s Food, or Lisa’s Kitchen.

I’ve made this recipe from Jaffrey’s cookbook many times.  It’ s light, not too spicy, and joins two of my favorite ingredients: ginger and lemon.


(adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe)
(para receita em portugues, siga ate’ o final do texto, na proxima pagina)

1 piece of ginger root, 2 inches long, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water

2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, skinless
2/3 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 ounces fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 serrano pepper, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs lemon juice

Place the ginger root and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a food processor, and blend until it forms a paste.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Remove the pieces to a bowl as they get ready.
Add the garlic to the oil, as soon as the pieces start to get some color turn down the heat to medium and add the ginger paste (now, take a deep breath and enjoy the amazing smell coming from the pan!). Cook for a minute or so, and add the fresh cilantro, serrano pepper, cayenne, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Stir everything well and cook for a minute.

Put back the chicken pieces and any liquid that accumulated in the bowl. Add 2/3 cup water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 25 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces over, cover again and cook for 15 to 20 minutes more, until tender. If the sauce is too thin, then uncover the pan and cook it down.

Serve over rice, with a veggie side dish of your preference.


More comments and photos after the jump….

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