Kuku Paka (Chicken in Coconut Sauce)

This past year I have been learning to cook new and interesting Indian dishes with some friends. Our lovely teacher, Farida, is a gifted and intuitive cook. She doesn’t use written recipes, but just knows how the food should look and taste. She is Gujarati, from a family that lived several generations in Kenya, before immigrating to the United States almost fifty years ago. This creamy coconut chicken curry which is popular in East Africa, is a fusion of Indian and African flavors. It is one of my favorite dishes we learned to make from Farida. You can eliminate the carrots and add corn on the cob and/or peas instead. We like to dip French bread in the delicious curry as well. As with many curries, this tastes best the day after you make it.

Kuku Paka (Chicken in Coconut Sauce)
10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thirds
4 cups cold water
1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube
2 teaspoons fine salt plus extra for further seasoning
4 medium Anaheim peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed (optional)
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 Tablespoons water
4-5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
8 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
2 (17.5 oz.) cans Savoy brand coconut cream
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
2 bunches cilantro or 2 cups
pinch of turmeric

In an 8-quart stock pot place chicken, 4 cups water, the bouillon cube, and 2 teaspoons fine salt. Turn heat to medium low, cover, and bring to a simmer. This takes about 7-10 minutes. While chicken is heating, in a blender make a pepper garlic paste by combining Anaheim peppers, jalapeño pepper (if using), garlic, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend to a paste, then add it to the almost simmering chicken. Cover and simmer 20 minutes until the chicken is half-way cooked, then add carrots and potatoes and cook 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender but not mushy. While carrots and potatoes are cooking, combine in a blender 1 cup of the canned coconut cream, lemon juice, flour, cilantro, and turmeric. Blend until smooth. Once potatoes are cooked add the coconut cilantro mixture along with the rest of the canned coconut cream. Stir to mix and add 2-3 teaspoons salt. Cover and cook 10 minutes until the curry is the consistency of a light gravy. Adjust salt to taste. Serves 6-8 over basmati rice.

Basmati Rice
5 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed

In a 4-quart pot with a lid combine water, butter, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the water has boiled, add rice and stir. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook 10 minutes until some water has evaporated but still mostly covers the rice. Transfer to a 350-degree oven and cook 10-15 minutes until rice is tender and water has evaporated. Serves 6.


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