These fancy bowl things have long names. Another yummy experiment, and only about 30 minutes to make (assuming you pre-marinated the chicken in a tandoori-spiced yogurt earlier in the day).
Pre-heat your grill pan, then start the chopped mushrooms sautéing in a separate pan in butter, masala powder, salt and lime juice. Five minutes in, the grill should be hot, and you can turn the mushrooms down to simmer while you roast the peppers and then grill the chicken (3 minutes each side on high). Chop some chilies and mix up a drizzle while the chicken’s finishing cooking (3 more minutes each side, on low, covered), and you’re good to go. (The chopped chilies could be served on the side so people can spice to taste; I love chomping into them.)
I have to be honest, though, chicken breast doesn’t excite me. It’s just a little dry, even when you marinate it in overnight. But the roasted peppers, sautéed mushrooms, and yogurt drizzle did do a nice job balancing that, esp. with a little lemon squeezed over the top. Personally, I like breast better when it’s chopped in more of a chicken salad sort of thing, so it stays really moist. But truly, if I made this particular dish again, I’d use chicken thighs instead.
(As a side note, while the bowl looks very pretty like this, it would be easier to eat if you cut the chicken and bell pepper into smaller pieces. And that slice of grilled lemon on the top is purely decorative!)
I’ve been experimenting with alternatives to white rice, and alternatives to the traditional Sri Lankan way of eating rice, which is a big plate of rice with a little curry on top. That’s reasonably frugal, but also pretty high in starch and low in fiber (things I pay attention to as I get older and my metabolism slows down).
The problem is that it just doesn’t work to simply reduce the amount of rice and add in quinoa, because you can’t eat it the same way, rolling up the rice and curry into satisfying little balls with your hand and popping them in your mouth. The texture is wrong, the rice and curry won’t hold together in those proportions, etc.
So I figured maybe there was something to this quinoa bowl thing that’s so popular right now, and maybe if I tried to compose a Sri Lankan bowl, that might work better. The red rice + quinoa (cooked in a mix of chicken broth and water) on its own was a little dry, esp. after the first day, so I knew I wanted to add plenty of unctuous rich flavor. Fried egg was an obvious contender (egg hoppers are classic Sri Lankan food, and so delicious), and mackerel curry is nicely traditional (and deliciously spicy). Avocado lent another creamy element, and a cool balance to the heat, and a crisp kale-coconut-onion-tomato sambol was the perfect vegetal accompaniment.
I wasn’t even hungry, but dear reader, I DEVOURED this bowl, and was tempted to fry another egg and go back for seconds. Experiment: wildly successful. (Bonus, this would be easy to pack up and take to work to eat with a fork in the office.)
Tomorrow, maybe I’ll try it with beef curry, for poor Kevin, who doesn’t appreciate fish. Pretty sure that will also work great, keeping all the other elements the same. (A little seeni sambol added in wouldn’t hurt either…)
Short-grain rice, Sri Lankan beef curry, Thai carrot salad, my friend Kat’s watermelon radish quick pickle, and some sliced bell pepper. Yummy — I especially like how the pickle enhances the spiciness of the beef curry. Also, it’s ridiculously pretty.
No real recipe — I just follow the instructions on the Maesri red curry paste can, combining the paste with coconut milk and a bit of brown sugar and fish sauce and simmering the salmon and bamboo shoots in that.
But I had fun building the tower for my dinner.
Beef and Potato Curry / Mas Kulunga Kari
(1 hour, serves 6)
This was my favorite dish growing up, the one my mother always makes for me when I come home, and the first Sri Lankan dish I learned to cook, when I called home desperate from the dorms, begging her to teach me how to make it over the phone. It’s also the first Sri Lankan dish my husband, Kevin, learned to cook — I came home once from a long plane flight, walked into the house, smelled the scent of this curry, that I hadn’t even known he had learned how to make, and promptly burst into tears. Enjoy.
3-5 medium onions, chopped fine
2 TBL ginger, chopped fine
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 TBL vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1-2 TBL red chili powder
3 lbs chuck steak, cubed, about 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 TBL Sri Lankan curry powder
1 heaping tsp salt
3 pieces cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
1 dozen curry leaves
1/2 cup milk
3 medium russet potatoes, cut into large chunks
2-3 TBL lime juice
1. In a large pot, sauté onions, ginger, and garlic in oil on medium-high with mustard seed and cumin seeds until onions are golden/translucent (not brown), stirring as needed. Add chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring. Immediately stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and curry leaves.
2. Add beef and stir on high for a minute or two, browning the meat. Add milk, stirring. Cover, turn down to medium, and let cook half an hour, stirring occasionally.
3. Add potatoes, stir well, and cover again. Cook until potatoes are cooked through, adding water if needed to maintain a nice thick sauce (and to keep food from burning), stirring occasionally. Add lime juice; stir until well blended. Serve hot with rice or bread.
This may be the most iconic flavor combo of my childhood — beef curry with carrot curry on rice. I think my mom made it close to weekly, and the two flavors go perfectly together — the savory spice of the beef with the sweetness of the carrots cooked in coconut milk.
When I eat it, part of me is twelve years old again, sitting at the kitchen table at dinnertime with my little sisters, reading a book. (I was a terrible conversationalist at family dinner. Mostly still am.)
(Not pictured with actual rice — was trying out shirataki. Shirataki, marketed here as ‘Miracle Rice’ would be an okay substitute for noodles, I think. It basically has no tooth, though, so if I were desperate for no-carb, almost no-calorie, rice-like thing, I might have some, but I definitely like rice + quinoa better for a lower-carb than plain white rice option. Or if I really felt like I wanted a big bed of white ‘something’ to put under curry? I am more than a little weirded out by the almost-no-calorie food concept, though.)
Five minute dinner — well, mostly because of leftovers and accompaniments. I had some rice + quinoa leftover from yesterday, and a little kale salad, and of course, I try to keep myself stocked with coconut sambol and seeni sambol in jars in the fridge.
So all I had to do was throw a tablespoon of butter in a hot pan, add a few tilapia filets, grind salt and pepper over them, flip them over a few minutes later, grind a little more salt and pepper on the other side, and when it was cooked through, serve with the rest of the food. Delish. The tilapia, seeni sambol, and rice/quinoa combo by itself would have been great — the other elements added pleasant fresher notes.