Coconut Veggie Chicken Curry

This coconut milk curry is made with yellow curry paste sautéed in coconut oil. You can vary the hard vegetables and add hard squash such as kabocha or butternut. You can make it vegetarian by using only garbanzo beans for protein instead of chicken. I used Mae Ploy brand of curry paste, which is fairly spicy. You can vary the amount of curry paste to suit your taste. I also added curry powder and turmeric for color. The optional spices enhance the flavor, but can be skipped if you can’t find them. I get mine at Halal or South Asian markets, and got the fenugreek from Berkeley Bowl, but you can find them online or at a spice store.


2 Tb coconut oil

1 Tb yellow curry paste

1 large yellow onion, chopped finely

3-4 cloves garlic, minced to make 1 TB

2 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated or minced to make 1 Tb

1 tsp curry powder

2 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp whole fennel seeds (optional)

1 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)

2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)

1 tsp masala (optional)

Two 13 1/2 oz cans full fat coconut milk

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

4 medium or 3 large carrots

2 white potatoes

2 medium yams

1 medium eggplant

1 cup chopped frozen or fresh spinach

1 cup frozen peas

1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt to taste

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (optional)

1 handful of cilantro to garnish


Chop onion finely, mince garlic and grate ginger.

Chop hard vegetables into 1/2 inch to one inch dice (bite sized) pieces and set aside in a bowl.

Chop cilantro and set aside. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.

Heat coconut oil in a large heavy skillet (I use cast iron). Stir in curry paste until it is smooth.

Add onions and let simmer for about 6 minutes until the onion softens. Stir in the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Add 2 cans of coconut milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the rest of the spices.

Stir the chicken into the curry mix until it is coated. Transfer to a large pot and add the chopped hard vegetables. Stir well and cook covered for 20 minutes, stirring at least every 5 minutes.

Add the chopped spinach and peas and stir well. Add the basil leaves and stir well. Add salt to taste, one teaspoon at a time.

You can serve after cooking, but flavors will meld if you have a few hours to set aside to cool in the refrigerator. Reheat, serve over brown Basmati rice, and garnish with cilantro.

Punjabi-style Potatoes and Cauliflower

potatoes in panMy colleague Purva told me a version of this vegetarian recipe made by her mother, who comes from the Punjabi region of India. Purva says onion, ginger and garlic are the base of Indian cooking. She cautioned me to always add garam masala at the end. Turmeric powder adds a nice yellow color and is reputed to have many health benefits.

To make this a vegan dish, omit the butter.


1 large head cauliflower

4 large Russet potatoes

1 large yellow onion

4 Tb olive oil, divided

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp powdered turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 – 2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp whole mustard seeds

2 tsp melted butter (optional)

1 tsp garam masala

Preheat oven to 400°F.

???????????????????????????????Cut cauliflower into florets, and then cut florets in quarters or smaller pieces. Place in an oiled shallow baking dish. Drizzle with 2 Tb olive oil and toss gently. Spread in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes until it begins to brown.

Peel potatoes, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice crosswise thickly.  Place in a large pot of boiling water, so that the water covers them by 3 inches, and cook for 25 minutes until soft.

???????????????????????????????While potatoes and cauliflower are cooking, stir whole mustard seeds in a dry frying pan over medium flame until they begin to pop. Set aside.

???????????????????????????????Chop onion into small pieces. Sauté in remaining 2 Tb olive oil until soft, and then add minced garlic, and sauté another minute. Stir in mustard seeds, ginger, turmeric, cumin, pepper and salt.

???????????????????????????????When potatoes are soft, drain, and then mash with a potato masher in the big pot.

DSC03390Add the cauliflower mixture to the potatoes and stir until well combined.

Stir in melted butter and garam masala, and adjust salt.

Curry Chicken on grill or in clay pot

Here’s a recipe that will curry your favor in both warm weather barbecuing and clay pot oven cooking in the coming cool season. Serve with steamed basmati rice and Chana Dall (yellow Lentils), Punjabi-style Potatoes and Cauliflower, and Indian breads.

I made this chicken on skewers to barbecue today. I cut up boneless breasts in 1” cubes and marinated it for several hours. I’ve also made this with either a cut up chicken or breasts, scoring the meat in several places to allow the marinade to penetrate.


Makes enough marinade for 6 breasts

1 cup plain yogurt (I use nonfat Middle Eastern Karoun yogurt)
1/3 cup lemon juice (2 large lemons)
2 Tb (tablespoon) olive oil
2 Tb melted butter or ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 Tb freshly minced or grated garlic
½ Tb freshly grated ginger OR ½ tsp ginger powder
3 Tb curry powder (or more to taste)
1 Tb garam masala seasoning (optional)
2 Tb cumin (comino) powder
2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
several grinds of black pepper.
2 tsp hot oil (to taste)
6 breasts or chicken pieces
1/4 cup cream for baked chicken
3 cups fresh spinach for baked chicken

Mix all ingredients well. Add cream if baking the chicken. It will make a smooth sauce. Otherwise the yogurt separates when cooked.  Adjust seasonings to taste. Add either cubed chicken or pieces and marinate for 2 – 4 hours.

Remember if using the clay pot, to soak it first for 1/2 hour and put in a cold oven, then turn on the oven to 350′. (You can also make the chicken in a ceramic casserole.) Cook chicken in the marinade for about 1 hour. Stir washed spinach leaves in the marinade for the last 10 minutes. Serve chicken, spinach and sauce over  basmati brown rice.

If using wooden skewers soak them first for at least ½ an hour. This is supposed to stop them from burning, but to tell you the truth, they burn anyway! Thread cubed chicken on skewers with some onion between them. Grill on medium high heat until done, about 15 -20 minutes for skewers, longer for pieces.

Serve cooked chicken garnished with fresh cilantro.

served with eggplant and bbq chicken

Did you ever seen a (Mango) Lassi?

This thick and sweet Indian smoothie is a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day. It’s low in fat and sugar. The yogurt and lime juice give it a nice tang. I sprinkle a little Tajín, (chili powder with dried lime and salt), on top for zing and added complexity. (I buy Tajín at Mexican grocery stores). For a special treat, take a bite of dark chocolate and hold it in your mouth while sipping the lassi.

Right now there are ripe mangoes at a good price at the corner markets and produce stores. When I can’t find them I use frozen mangoes from Trader Joe’s. You can substitute sugar for the agave if you prefer.

I prefer the lassi made with dairy products, but since I’m lactose intolerant, I have to use lactose-free milk. I couldn’t find that at work the other day, so made it from coconut water and coconut milk. It was pretty good. Here are both recipes:

Use 2 ripe, soft (but not mushy) mangoes. Refrigerate ingredients before using, or add ice to cool down the drink.

Dairy Lassi:
2 cups fresh or frozen mango (2 medium or one large mango)
¼ banana (¼ cup)
½ cup 1 % milk
½ cup nonfat plain Greek or Mediterranean yogurt (I buy Karoun brand at Middle Eastern markets)
½ tsp lime juice
2 tsp agave nectar

 Combine ingredients in blender. Pulse until fruit breaks up, and then liquefy Lassi. If using fresh mango, add some ice until desired coldness is reached. If it is too thick, add more milk. Sprinkle a bit of Tajín on top.

Because the coconut water I buy has sugar in it, I don’t add any more sugar to this lassi. Drink the rest of the can for a refreshing treat!

Coconut Mango Lassi (vegan)

2 cups fresh or frozen mango (2 medium or one large mango)
¼ banana (¼ cup)
½ cup coconut water (I use canned coconut water with added pulp)
½ cup coconut milk (use low-fat for fewer calories)
½ tsp lime juice

 Combine ingredients in blender. Pulse until fruit breaks up, and then liquefy lassi. If using fresh mango, add some ice until it reaches desired coldness. If it is too thick, add more coconut water. Sprinkle a bit of Tajín on top.