Sunday, August 22, 2010

Food Revolution: Chicken Korma to Chicken KorMex

This is part of a series of posts in which I cook something from Jamie's Food Revolution and then make it again with a twist. Find the other posts here.

I have definitely learned something from Jamie's Food Revolution: I really love Indian food, especially when it's homemade. This time I made Chicken Korma, and the rule definitely still holds true. This stuff is amazingly delicious. I technically tweaked Jamie's recipe a little, but that was just because some of his amounts were stupid:
  • 2 chicken breasts (translated to human measures from "1 3/4 pounds chicken breasts")
  • 2 medium onions
  • optional: 1 fresh jalapeño (translated from optional: 1 fresh green chile)
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
  • a small bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 x 15-oz can garbanzo beans
  • peanut oil
  • a pat of butter
  • 1/2 cup Patak's mild curry paste
  • 1 x 14-oz can lite coconut milk
  • a small handful of sliced almonds
  • 2 heaped tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups lite natural yogurt
  • 1 lemon
Cut the chicken into chunks. Halve and finely slice the onions (tip: be sure to slice, not crush, to avoid tears). Slice the jalapeño from the tip up to just before the seeds, cut the remainder in half lengthwise, cut off the end, and push out the seeds (this is the technique that I've finally figured out will work to get the seeds out cleanly, let me know if you have a better technique). Put a few of the prettier slices aside for plating Peel and finely chop the ginger. Pick some cilantro leaves to use in plating and finely chop the rest. Drain the beans.

Put a large pan on high or medium-high heat (Jamie says high, but everything gets golden before 10 minutes either way, and I had to turn it down to avoid burning) and add some oil (about enough to just cover the bottom of the pan). Add the onions, pepper, ginger, cilantro, and butter. Cook for about 10 minutes (until the onions are golden), stirring pretty close to constantly. Add the curry paste, beans, coconut milk, coconut, almonds (except a little for plating), garbanzo beans, and slicked chicken. Stir. Half-fill the empty coconut milk can with water, and add it. Stir again. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes with the lid on. Jamie says to check it regularly to make sure it's not drying out and add extra water if necessary, which makes me think Jamie usually cooks in a desert with a dehumidifier running; this stuff was soupy when it finished, there was no risk of it drying out. The chicken should be tender and cooked when you finish. He says to season with (sea) salt and pepper, but I didn't need to add anything to make it delicious. I cooked some rice during the last 15 minutes or so of the simmering, and served the korma over that with some yogurt, the pretty bits, and a lemon wedge.

Trying to come up with a way to remix this one was daunting. First off, it was so super delicious, I didn't want to mess with it. Second, Patak's is a super cheaty way of cooking, but I wanted something at least close to the same: a paste of spicy goodness. What to do?

I decided to pick a type of food, and just substitute each of the ingredients as best I could, and see what happened. I knew I'd have a lot of work to do, so I picked something I'm familiar with: Tex-Mex. Here's what I did to Tex-Mexify each ingredient:
  • 2 chicken breasts to 2 chicken breasts (we have chickens in Texas)
  • optional: 1 fresh jalapeño to not optional: 1 fresh jalapeño
  • a small bunch of fresh cilantro to a large bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 x 15-oz can garbanzo beans to 1 x 15-oz can whole-kernel sweet corn
  • 1 x 14-oz can lite coconut milk to 14 oz 2% milk
  • a small handful of sliced almonds to a small handful of crumbled pecans
  • 2 heaped tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut unchanged, because I need to use this stuff up, but I think I'd use shredded jicama if I didn't already have coconut
  • 2 cups lite natural yogurt to 2 cups lite sour cream
  • 1 lemon to oh crap I forgot the lemon
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger to I can't think of anything ginger-like, and ginger is tasty, so we'll call it fusion; I probably could have switched this to a few cloves of garlic, though
That leaves the paste. Well, this is supposed to be Texan, so I used 1/4 cup Salt Lick Chipotle BBQ Sauce thickened to something more paste-like with 1/4 cup chili powder.

I made everything just like in the original, except I added the milk last at the add-everything-else step, and didn't quite bring it to a boil after adding the milk. I had no idea how this stuff would taste.

It came out pretty tasty, but my crazy concoction just couldn't top the concentrated deliciousness that is Patak's. Curries are just so good. I'll probably make it again, but probably not before I run out of curry pastes.

If you have any ideas for things I could have picked that were more properly Tex-Mex, or if you try a remix using a different theme, let us know in the comments.

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