Those of us who cook—or should I say, those of us who find intense love and joy in cooking—are incredibly lucky. We have the privilege of being able to seek solace in something so everyday. It means you have something special. It means that when you’re having the worst few days in the world, you can lie in bed listening to the Bridesmaids soundtrack having done and eaten barely anything the day before, and just before you switch to Will Young you drag yourself up, take a shower, and announce that “I’m going to cook.”
And when it’s raining outside even though it promised to be summer and copious cups of tea don’t seem to be cutting it, you want to create something wholesome and warming that will fill your empty hole, even if only temporarily.
Cooking can combine comforting methodical acts: calmly chopping and slicing, stirring, experiencing familiar sounds and smells… but it can also allow you to become creative even when you feel absolutely useless. It reminds you that no matter how bad things seem, you can always create something beautiful.
Today, my something beautiful happened to be a sweet potato, chicken and coconut curry. Creamy, comforting, gently spiced and delicious.
Hot chilli powder (2 tsp)
Cumin (3 tsp)
Ground coriander (1 tsp)
Ground ginger (1 tsp)
Salt and pepper if desired
A clove of garlic
1 large chicken breast
2 medium onions
1 cup dessicated coconut
2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons of lentils
500ml chicken stock
Milk or cream (optional)
1 tablespoon flour
1) Begin by adding the hot water to the dessicated coconut, and leaving aside in a jug or bowl. The water will be absorbed which will both soften the coconut and also produce a milky liquid, both of which will be added to the curry.
2) Add the spices and garlic to some oil in a roomy pan.
3) Dice the chicken and add it to the pan. I suppose at this point you could set aside as a marinade, but I was in no mood for marinating today, I can tell you.
4) Heat the pan, occasionally stirring, until the chicken is white through and fully covered in spices.
5) Meanwhile, peel and dice the sweet potato and onions.
6) Add the vegetables to the chicken along with a spoonful of flour. Stir and allow to sweat for a few minutes.
7) Add the chicken stock and lentils and bring to the boil. Simmer for fifteen minutes.
8) Squeeze down the coconut with a spoon so you can pour all the liquid into the pot. Then stir in the coconut itself.
9) Allow the curry to simmer until the lentils are absorbed and the chicken and sweet potatoes are tender.
10) Add some milk or cream just before serving if desired. Try this recipe with boiled white or brown rice or naan bread and your favourite chutney.
This ought to warm one up on a miserable day, inside or out…