Coconut Milk Creativity

A culinary creation to share! I bought a can of coconut milk on a whim last time I was down the ethnic foods aisle at the local Hannaford and I’ve been itching to use it in some delicious recipe or another.  I wasn’t feeling quite courageous enough to completely improvise something (mostly because I tried to concoct a huge pot of soup the other night with only mediocre success), so I explored Heidi Swanson’s “101 Cookbooks” a bit and ended up using her super-simple and very flexible Cashew Curry recipe.  My concoction followed her instructions pretty closely, but I had to adjust a number of ingredients due to the current bareness of my cupboards and refrigerator. Here’s how it went in the end:

Simple Yellow Curry with Coconut Milk

1/2 cup toasted cashews 1 medium potato, in chunks
1 cup of water 1/2 of a yellow onion
2 cloves garlic 1 can coconut milk
5-6 tbsp yellow curry
1/2 cup garbanzo beans 2/3 cup frozen peas
1/2 small can green chiles sprinkle of garlic salt (to taste)
a few grinds of the pepper mill (to taste) 2-3 teaspoons cumin seeds 1-2 tsp dried cilantro or a handful of fresh for garnish

1.) Toast cashews in large skillet on top of the stove over medium heat for about 5 minutes, shaking frequently.

2.) Set the cashews aside in a bowl. Add potatoes to the skillet with the water and cover. Steam until tender, about 10 minutes.

3.) While waiting for the potatoes, chop up the onion and garlic and dice up any other veggies (fresh or frozen) or tofu or meat you might want to add to the dish. (In my case, this just meant pounding the peas on the counter for a minute to loosen them up.)4.) Drain the potatoes and set aside. Add coconut milk to the skillet and whisk in the curry powder, garlic, cumin seeds, cilantro, black pepper, and garlic salt.

(Depending on what sort of spicing you like, you could add coriander or turmeric or potentially even garum masala for a more Indian curry or sweet basil for a more Thai sort of curry.) Give the sauce a minute or two to heat up a little, then add the onions, green chiles, peas and garbanzo beans. Heat until simmering.

5.) Add the potatoes towards the end so they don’t get too mushy. If you’re using tofu, I’d wait until just before the end to add that too.

6.) Add spices to taste (more curry, more salt, more pepper, more of whatever you think it needs).

Serve over rice or all by itself as more of a soup. In the end I was wishing I had whipped up chapatis as well, but the rice was satisfying enough.

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