Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Banana Curry with Chicken

I don't know of any curried dish that looks 'pretty' especially when using your camera phone to do it, so instead of using the photo from my camera phone I found this picture of a similar dish from ClassicEngland.net of their banana and chicken curry.

It was another evening where I was at home, tired and had to turn again once more to the limitations of my cupboard.

I only had three "fresh" ingredients in the kitchen -- a 3pack of chicken breasts from Publix, 2 bananas and half of a red onion. What to do with those? Immediately I turned to Google, and the only recipes that would pop up involving at least two of the three was a Banana Curry. I figured, what the hell. What I was limited to in fresh ingredients I more than made up for in spices. With the available spices, I could make a curry. I realized though if it tasted shitty, I'd be extremely pissed with myself and probably take it out on my partner who was working late Thursday night.

So I found a recipe that was doable -- from the Australian Banana Growers Council. The recipe called for my three fresh ingredients, plus green beans and eggplant. In the freezer I had some green beans, but no eggplant - f*ck it, who needs eggplant and who wants to potentially waste yet an additional item from a cupboard on something you don't really know will be good.
So already I was going to have to modify or change the recipe -- go figure I'm a Mei, and come from a long line of people who throw weird sh*t in a pot and yet it comes out tasting fabulous 8 out of 10 times, so I felt comfortable (hungry) enough to try it. The called for recipe card is as follows.

Banana Curry

2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon (or more) red curry paste
3 bananas, thickly sliced
1/4 cup lime juice
1 onion, sliced
500g chicken breast fillets, sliced into strips
250g green beans, sliced
1 medium eggplant, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
1 cup (250ml) low fat coconut cream
2 tablespoons shredded basil
2 cups white rice, cooked

Heat oil in pan, add half the curry paste and half the bananas, toss until coated. Remove from pan, pour over lime juice. Add remaining curry paste and onions to the pan. Cook until onions are soft. Add chicken and cook until golden brown. Stir in beans, eggplant, water and stock powder, simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
Stir in coconut cream, simmer until just thickened. Add banana mixture. Mix through remaining bananas, allow to heat through. Sprinkle with basil and serve with rice.

So we already know that I didn't have eggplant, well I only had two bananas and half a red onion. Instead of using oil, my better half had some Ghee in the fridge, and we all know that clarified butter like all butter has Paula's seal of approval, and isn't as potent in savory fragrance and flavor as olive oil. And then there's the additions, which I'll highlight.

So you heat a tablespoon of Ghee in a large deep skillet. Throw in some mustard seeds and the sliced bananas. Then add the red curried paste an make sure the bananas get good and coated. remove set aside and splash it with lemon juice.

Heat some more Ghee in the skillet and toss in the onions. Sprinkle with some garlic salt (or powder). Add the curry paste and let the onions cook down until they're softish, add the chicken breast strips. Cook them until the chicken is about half way done (doesn't take long!), add the frozen green beans. Cook it down for about two minutes and add the water. Instead of chicken stock powder I added vegetable bullion. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes uncovered on low medium heat. Add a can of light coconut milk. Sprinkle in a dash of chili powder and red curry powder. Then add back in the banana mixture and stir. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes to heat through. Serve over rice and garnish with crushed basil leaves.

I was surprised, it actually tastes really good -- you've got savory and aromatic flavors from the curry and the onions and spices and just a touch of sweetness and creaminess from the bananas and the coconut milk.

It's not exactly south Asian, though somewhat pan Asian -- I suppose an Asian infused dish as the Puck would say. One thing is for sure.... it's pretty damned delicious! So give it a try!

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