Inspired from India: Crockpot Mango Chicken Coconut Curry
Posted Dec 31 2013 9:00am
I love food. Let’s just get that out there. I love going out to eat, especially with people who love food. One of my closest friends at work is also someone who loves food. We enjoy talking about food and about the restaurants we may have been to or a dish we may have read about or seen prepared on a television show. We talk about the dining experience, the ingredients and how it was presented, and how we can recreate it ourselves. We could talk about food pretty much all day if we had the opportunity.
Me and My sister-in-law on the swings in the back dining area of India
On one such occasion this summer, I was telling my friend Allie about an Indian restaurant that is on the East Side of Providence that has some delicious dishes. I was telling her about chic decor of the restaurant, simply named India . It has a cute grotto style eat-in garden in the front of the building if you’re looking for an al fresco dining experience. The interior is dimly light with a casual, yet posh atmosphere. Then there is the back exterior seating—it’s divine. Lush plantings, water features, and the most amazing aspect of the back dining area—the perimeter is lined with wooden benches on one side of the tables with wooden swings opposing the benches. We just recently discovered the swings when we went to India on a double date with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law! For me, going to India just isn’t about the food it’s about the experience. It’s sophisticated, yet homey as is their food.
I remember the first time I went to India—it was on New Year’s Eve with my then boyfriend (now known as The Hubs). I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I did not like Indian food (not that I had actually ever HAD Indian food). I had always associated it with a very aromatic scent…it’s what my best friend, Suzy calls “potpourri.” However, as I was trying to impress my boyfriend, I sucked it up and ordered what I thought was the least offending dish—it was the Mango Chicken Curry. The server indicated it wasn’t spicy, and since the people at the table next us had just ordered the same and I didn’t notice any significant floral smell, I thought it was likely my best bet. I was beyond pleasantly surprised. It was delicious. The chicken was melt-in-your-mouth tender there was a subtle heat in the background that just heightened the sweetness of the mango. From that point on I was a believer in Indian food and have since decided it is one of my favorite cuisines (even after going to more traditional restaurants where there is definitely a more floral quality to the dishes).
Now, when we go to India, which isn’t often and usually on a date or double date night, I always have a difficult time deciding what I order when I’m there because there are just so many luscious dishes on their menu. I typically have a hard time deciding between my initial love, Mango Curry, and the Coconut Chicken Curry. I think the Coconut Chicken Curry has a little more bite to it thanks to the ginger in the dish. So, getting back to my conversation with Allie (there is a point to this I promise), after describing the décor, I began to tell her of my two favorite dishes and how I always have a difficult time deciding what I want to order. She asked me if I ever tried to recreate either of the dishes, to wish I replied no. And then I got to think…why not? The tenderness of the chicken lends itself well to a crockpot meal, and other than substituting cauliflower “f’rice” for the Basmati rice that it’s usually served with, should be an easy dish to recreate—AND combine my favorite aspects of my two favorite dishes into a single dish! In the end I had my version of my two favorite dishes at one of my favorite places to dine out in Rhode Island. It’s not as fantastical as the real deal because I’m sure they have some secret ingredient that I’m missing, but it definitely will be a close match to hold me over when I’m in North Carolina in between trips home.
If you’re not really into Indian food, give this a shot—it’s an easy introduction. And if you’re in the area, go to India, and if you’re here in the summer—definitely request an outdoor seating—the swings are to die for!
Mango Chicken Coconut Curry
4 large chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. honey
1” knob fresh ginger, finely minced (use less if you do not like a strong ginger flavor)
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 tsp. curry power
2 tsp. coriander
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup diced pineapple (fresh, frozen, or canned will work)
1 bulb fennel, finely sliced
1-cup mango, diced (I use frozen)
1-cup raw cashews
Fresh cilantro for garnish
In a small saucepot, combine the coconut milk, tomato paste, garlic, honey, and fresh ginger and simmer. Heat long enough to melt the honey and combine the flavors—about 5-minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the spices, allow to cool.
In a crockpot, add the chicken breasts (if you prefer dark meat, boneless thighs and legs would work here as well), sauce mixture, pineapple, mango, and fennel. Set the crockpot on low and let cook for 4-6 hours (I honestly let mine go for closer to 8-hours as I have a timer on my crockpot. It will cook for 4-6 on low, then turn itself to “keep warm” until we get home from work).
When it’s done cooking, remove the chicken from the crockpot to shred the meat. Add cashews to the sauce and stir prior to adding the shredded chicken back to the pot, salt and pepper to taste (I find it doesn’t need much). Serve over cauliflower f’rice (or rice if you are not grain free) and garnish with fresh cilantro.
This dish usually allows for two meals in our house (2 adults and 2 small kids). If you’re planning on doing a 30-day Paleo challenge, you can omit the honey and I don’t think will notice much of a difference due to the pineapple and mango. It’s a great meal to prepare on a Sunday (even with heating the sauce it only requires 10-minutes prep total) and know that when you get home from work will have a warm, real food dinner waiting for you that can be stretched for leftovers.