Since getting back last week from India… I mean Austin… I think I’ve had curry four times. Why am I confusing Austin and India, you ask? That was my little joke during our long weekend visit with friends, because every day involved something Indian. We were there primarily to see my friend Lauren perform in a Bollywood production – Om Shanthi. Bravo, Lauren! Maybe all that Bollywood energy stuck with us. But the next night we ended up at G'raj Mahal, an Indian restaurant near Rainey Street. And then, the following day, I found myself loading up a plate of curried cauliflower and chickpeas at the Whole Foods on Lamar, which, by the way, also thinks it’s in India – I couldn’t believe the assortment of Indian curries in the to-go food section and naan in the bread aisle. Anyway….
Curries like this one are on the regular dinner rotation at our house. I’m a big fan of anything that you can cook in one pot and I love using lots of spices. So, Indian food, and actually most cuisines from the eastern hemisphere make regular appearances. We joke about how our future kids’ friends will react when they stay for dinner and then find out we’re having dahl… Iguess I better get working on a back up healthy mac & cheese...
Usually when making curry I don’t stick to a particular recipe. I like to change it up and just go with whatever vegetables I have on hand. It’s a great “clean out the fridge” dish or if you’re shopping you can try to save a little and opt for what’s on sale. Serve over brown rice (or enjoy just by itself) add a little cilantro and BOOM!
I've been asked if there’s a particular brand of curry powder I prefer, or if I make my own. I don’t have any regular go-to’s really, but as we’ve experimented more and more, it's sort of fun combining my own spices rather than going off the shelf. The one in this recipe comes from a recipe provided by Dr. Amy Myers from Austin UltraHealth. If anyone out there has a brand or personal blend they swear by, please share!
This recipe uses butternut squash (I found the cutest little baby one… makes me excited for fall!), celery, green onions and kale. But change it up and use what you like... cauliflower, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots... the possibilities are endless. Don't have that mix of spices? Use a prepared curry powder or paste. Here's an old vegetable curry recipe from way back when that uses curry powder for another option.
Did I mention this meal has super powers too? The pungent spices - turmeric, cumin and coriander (just to name a few) - in curry have been used medicinally for centuries. Pungents, which are usually lacking in our modern American diet, are drying which should balance out the sweet (considered mucus forming) foods that it's easy to get some much more of. Think about the last time you had a spicy chili and it left you with a runny nose, clearing your sinuses. The spices really were "drying you out." Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, teaches that a truly balanced meal should include all six flavors - spicy, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter - for satisfaction, balance, optimal digestion, health and harmony. It may sound like a tall order for just one meal, but it shows, food is powerful. And when it's powers are used for good, magic like this happens...
Coconut Chicken Curry
(recipe adapted from Austin UltraHealth's recipe)
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, cut into crescents
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced small
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups kale, torn and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces
1 can full fat coconut milk
Heat large skillet ove medium heat and add coconut oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add spices and stir to coat onions. Then add squash, celery and green onions and stir to mix well. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Cook until you can pierce squash with a fork. Add kale and continue to cook until wilted. Add chicken and coconut milk and simmer to allow flavors to combine. Add black pepper to taste. Serve as is or over brown rice and topped with cilantro.
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.