This is a delightful dish our mom would prepare whenever there was leftover chicken from the day before (usually on a Monday). She would curry the beans and the last 5 minutes or so add in the chicken pieces for the perfect accompaniment for boiled rice or hot roti off the tawa. In this version I’ll do things a little different by doing the curry chicken base first, then we’ll add the trimmed beans and simmer it all in some coconut milk.
1.5 lbs chicken thighs
1 lb string beans
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Caribbean green seasoning
2 tablespoon veg oil
1.5 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon amchar massala (optional)
4 cloves garlic
5 birds eye pepper (aka bird pepper)
1 cup coconut milk
Notes. I used a madras curry blend (made in the Caribbean). The chicken thighs were deboned, but feel free to use bone-in (about 2lbs).. cook a little longer. Do NOT cut the peppers, simply remove the stems and use whole. We’ll get some flavor from them, without the raw heat.
Cut the chicken into 1 -2 inch pieces, wash and drain. Then season with the salt, black pepper, green seasoning and amchar massala (you can also use ground roasted geera – cumin) and allow to marinate for about 1 hour. In the meantime you can trim the string beans (simply cut off the tips and cut into 2 inch pieces).
Heat the oil in a fairly large pan on med-high, then add the chopped shallot (you can also use onion) and garlic and turn the heat down to low. Cook this gently for about 3 minutes. Then add the curry powder and stir well. Cook for a further 3 minutes to get the raw curry taste out. It will go darker in colour and go a bit grainy.
Now add the peppers (do not break them unless you want the heat) and cook for about 30 seconds, then add in the seasoned chicken and mix well to deglaze the pan and to coat the chicken pieces with the lovely curry base we created.
Turn the heat up to medium/high and cook the chicken with the lid uncovered for about 4-5 minutes. Then add the trimmed beans and coconut milk (remember to give it a good stir) and bring to a boil. Place the lid on the pan and cook for about 10 minutes (depending on how well you like your beans cooked) on a simmer (so lower the heat).
Remove the lid and time to finish off the dish. You check for salt at this point (adjust accordingly) and you can also personalize the dish at this point. Depending if you want gravy or not, you can now turn up the heat and burn off all the remaining liquid. OPTIONAL: Toss in a few cherry tomatoes, turn off the heat and place the lid back on. The residual heat will soften the tomatoes so it does not go to mush and really give the dish some colour.
This is a dish Tehya simply craves (me too) and it’s a great way to get children eating vegetables. But please try to not overcook the beans as it will take on a soggy texture and loose it’s bright flavor.
A few months back I came across a wonderful video online of a fellow Trinbagonian living in the US who created a cooking video called “The Ultimate Curry Chicken” and though his method and ingredients of cooking curry chicken was a bit different than mine, I’m sure it was just as tasty. If you’ve watched my introduction video (click on “About” above) you’ll know that curry is not one of the things we grew up on and only years later when I moved to Canada and lived with my aunt, did I really start eating it. Don’t get me wrong, our mom is an excellent cook when it comes to anything curry, it’s just we didn’t have it as often. I’ve been lucky enough to have my mom close (about 1 hour away) the past few years, so over this time I’ve taken her recipe and made some slight changes to call it my own. BTW if you’re in the Toronto area and you’re looking to have some food catered (Trini dishes), be sure to contact me and I’ll not only get you some amazing food, but I’ll even hook you up with a nice discount. I’m not in the catering business, but my sister is and it seems she’s doing an amazing job with the rate her business is growing.
3 Lbs Chicken
3/4 tablespoon salt
dash black pepper
1/4 hot pepper (scotch bonnet, habanero or any hot pepper you like) *Optional.
heaping tablespoon curry powder (madras)
1/4 teaspoon roasted Geera (powder)
1 medium tomato diced
1 medium onion sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 teaspoon green seasoning mix
2 + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
1 1/2 cups water
6 tablespoons water (to cook curry)
Shado beni (see note below)
* I usually use dark meat (with bones) when cooking curry as I find that the overall taste of the finished dish is more tasty. However the recipe works just as well with white meat (may be a bit dry though)
* Since shado beni is not readily available to us in the city where I live (and I can’t grow it) I usually get some shipped to me and immediately after I get it, it goes into my freezer. Then whenever I’m cooking I break off a few leaves to add to my dish. So if you can get access to some at your local store, remember that freezing is also an option if you get a large package. I also find that the frozen leaves holds more flavour than if you were to puree the leaves as we do with green seasoning mix.
* If you don’t have the green seasoning the recipe calls for, feel free to use about a tablespoon of each of the following (chopped):
* Spanish thyme would also be a good addition if you can get access to it.
* In the recipe you notice that I cooked the frozen shado beni with the onions before adding the curry. If you’re using fresh shado beni you’ll get better results if you season the chicken with it, rather than cooking it as I did. If you don’t have any shado beni, you can also substitute cilantro for it (add about 2-3 tablespoon chopped to the seasoned chicken)
I got a package of chicken legs with back attached, so this means I had to cut it into serving size pieces before I could get started. After I cut the chicken into pieces it was placed in a bowl with some water and the juice of the lime (see ingredients above) to be washed. I then drained out the water and squeezed it as dry as I could.
The next step is to season the chicken and allow it to marinate for a couple hours. Add the salt, black pepper, tomato, green seasoning, and scallion (chopped) to the bowl with the chicken and stir so everything gets coated.
After it’s been marinating for a couple hrs, it’s time to start cooking. In a fairly large pan, heat the oil (2 tablespoon) on high heat and get prepared to add the sliced onions, garlic and hot pepper. Allow this to cook for a few minutes until the onions go soft and start to go a bit brown. I then turn the heat to medium and add a few leaves of the frozen shado beni to the pot followed by the curry and geera (cumin) and stir. You may notice that the pot is “dry”, this is when I add another tablespoon of oil to the pot so nothing sticks. The next step is to add the 6 tablespoons of water, turn the heat down and allow this to cook for a couple minutes. This will bring out the true aroma of the curry.
As the liquid burns off it’s time to start adding the pieces of seasoned chicken to the pot. Turn the heat back up to high and stir each piece so it get’s in contact with the cooked curry. After you’ve added all the seasoned chicken, turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
You’ll notice that the chicken will spring it’s own juices, so after 15 minutes remove the lid and turn the heat up to high. We’ll now burn off that liquid. As the liquid burns off from the pot (make sure you keep stirring) you’ll see nothing but a bit of oil at the bottom with a sort of curry paste (this is the good stuff).
In the same bowl you seasoned the chicken add the 1 1/2 cups of water so we can pick up any remaining seasoning that was left behind. Now add the water from the bowl to the pot to continue the cooking process.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer with the pot covered (stir occasionally). After 20 minutes, remove the cover and check the sauce or gravy to see if it’s the consistency you like. Usually I have to turn the heat up a bit to reduce the curry sauce as I like it a bit thick.
I’m sure many of you may have a different way of making curry chicken or as our friends from Guyana say “chicken curry” , so I encourage you to share you method with us in the comments box below this post. Don’t forget to also join us on facebook below: