This is a guest post from NF Rebel Chef Noel.
How many times have you stood in the kitchen in front of a pile of ingredients and thought: “I have no idea what I’m doing”?
Believe it or not, I feel this way a lot. (Don’t tell Steve!) About 90% of the time, I eat the same meals over and over again: cans of tuna with smashed avocado, scrambled eggs and bacon, baked chicken breasts and broccoli, lettuce wrapped burgers and baked sweet potatoes, etc..
Unless I’m whipping up a new recipe for The Rebellion, I rarely try anything new. When I’m tired, cranky, and hungry, I don’t want to have to think too hard about where my next meal is coming from.
We’ve had a few requests from you awesome Rebels asking about adding Asian-inspired cuisine to your cooking repertoire. I have a feeling that a lot of us nerds are into Asian food — I know I am. But we don’t get to eat it often because it’s packed with sugary sauces, processed thickeners, and in general, stuff we know works against us in our quest to get strong and stay healthy.
So today, we’re going to try some Indian flavors.
Indian food fascinates and intimidates me. Garam Masala? Curry? What are these spices and where do they come from? This is something I was never introduced to growing up.
For me, this recipe was 100% new. Something I never even thought about cooking before. If I can do it, you can do it. Trust me.
In fact, it’s a lot like Steve’s Chicken Stir Fry recipe – a level 1 recipe.
Curry sounds like something fancy, exotic, and intimidating to make in your own home. But honestly, the only thing that may appear to pose a challenge is gathering the spices. They’re things that might sound a little weird, but I’ve been to a couple of different grocery stores, and to my surprise, they were readily available. If you can’t find one or two of them, that’s totally fine. Just replace it with a little extra curry powder!
A quick note to all you Indian food connoisseurs out there…because I have never cooked or eaten much curry in my life, there are likely a few top secret spices and tricks that I’m missing out on to make the Best Curry Ever. If you aren’t an Indian-food n00b like me, please feel free to share your tips/tricks/super secrets in the comments!
Ingredients and Equipment
Cook Time: 30 min
Prep Time: 10 min
2 chicken breasts (about 1lb or .45kg) – Boneless and skinless is good! We’ll be cutting these into 1″ cubes.
4 large sweet potatoes
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced – These are the little guys inside the big bulb (or 1/2 tsp [2.5ml] pre minced garlic).
2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil – We’ll use 1 tbsp to stir fry the chicken and the other 1 tbsp to stir fry the veggies and spices.
1 tbsp (15ml) curry powder – Find this in the spice aisle. Pro tip: Spices are often organized alphabetically.
1 tsp (5ml) coriander – Also find it in the spice aisle.
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) cumin – Again, spice aisle.
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) cinnamon – You guessed it… spice aisle!
1/8 tsp (.61ml) red chili flakes – You are becoming well acquainted with the spice aisle, aren’t you?
1 can (14.5ml) tomatoes – Look for a BPA-free can or a box!
1/3 cup (79ml) coconut milk – I use the kind in the can. You can usually find this in the ethnic or Asian foods aisle.
1/8 tsp (.61ml) salt
Spatula or Spoon – for stirring while cooking
Cutting Board – plastic is best for chicken, but any kind will do. Also, make sure to sanitize your cutting board and knife well after cutting raw chicken on it!
Bowls – for measuring your ingredients
1. First we’re going to cook the sweet potato. The fastest way and easiest way to do this is to cook it in the microwave. Poke it with a knife or fork several times (careful not to poke your hand), place it in the microwave, and if you’re lucky, your microwave will have a button that says “potato”. Push that one and hit “start.” If not, cook the potato for 5-8 minutes.
When the potato is done, it’ll be super hot, so you can leave it in the microwave for now. Okay, now let’s get down to the real cookin’!
2. Prep all your ingredients! A lot of people who are new to cooking are not great at multitasking in the kitchen. This is okay! The more you cook, the better you’ll get at it! If we prep our ingredients before we turn any heat on, we’ll have everything ready so that there’s less of a chance of burning your food, ruining your meal, and giving up cooking for all of eternity. So, consider steps 3-5 prep steps.
3. Cut your chicken into 1 in to cubes. Your chicken should look about like this when it’s done:
4. Dice your onion. (Refer to paleo shepherd’s pie for a refresher on how to dice an onion).
5. Measure out the rest of your ingredients. That means spices, garlic, and coconut milk. Open your can of tomatoes. If you’re using carrots and cauliflower, cut these up as well. Also, measure out your peas.
6. Now it’s time to turn on the heat! Pre heat your frying pan for about 5 minutes.
7. Pour 1 tbsp (15ml) olive oil in your pan and let it heat up. This takes about 10 seconds.
8. Dump all your chicken in the pan (if your pan is small, you may want to do this in a couple batches).
Stir fry the chicken until it is cooked through. This will take about 15-20 minutes. The outside of the chicken will look toasted brown and you wont see any more pink in the meat. “Stir fry” just means cook on high heat in oil, stirring frequently.
9. When the chicken is browned, remove it from heat and set aside.
10. Place your pan back on the heat and pour your second Tbsp of oil in it. Tilt the pan to coat. (It’s okay if you don’t clean the pan before you do this).
11. Add your onions and stir. If you’re using more veggies, now would be a good time to add them.
Let them cook 3-5 minutes until translucent. They also might look a bit yellow because they’re picking up all the leftover chickeny flavors. This is totally fine and definitely delicious.
12. Now, add the garlic, tomatoes, spices, and coconut milk. Stir well.
13. Return the chicken to the pan, mix it in and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is warmed through. Add about 1/4 cup (59ml) water to the pan and stir if the the liquid is evaporating quickly. (You probably won’t have to add water if you put a lid on the pan while it’s simmering.)
14. Remember that sweet potato from earlier? It should be cool enough to touch now. (If it’s too cold, warm it up for 30 seconds – 1 minute more.) Take it out of the microwave and cut it down the middle.
15. Spoon some of the chicken curry into the middle of the sweet potato and serve!
And that’s it! Looking to change it up a little? Try one of these variations!
- Want more veggies? I suggest 4 carrots, 1/2 a head of cauliflower, finely chopped, and 1 cup (236ml) of peas. Broccoli or eggplant would probably also be great.
- Crave more spice? Add some more red pepper flake, a dash of cayenne pepper, or 1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, minced!
- Want even more flavor? Use fresh ginger, grated (I use a cheese grater. Be careful with your fingers! You can also mince the ginger with your knife if you don’t have a grater.
- Don’t feel like pouring it in a sweet potato? You can whip up some cauliflower rice. Or for less hassle, just roast or steam your cauliflower, and serve the curry along side that.
- Make it vegetarian! Replace the chicken with a can of chickpeas – drain and rinse them first. Toss them in at the re-warming stage of this recipe.
Adventure for your taste buds!
To be honest, I was pretty stressed about this recipe because I had never made anything like it before, but I’m super happy that you guys requested that we try something new together!
You reminded me that cooking new things is awesome! As Steve tells us, sometimes we need to do stuff that scares us!
Doing something new in the kitchen can certainly fit that bill.
Here are some tips to help you get over that fear:
- Find some recipe websites or a good cook book that you trust. (I like Nom Nom Paleo and Civilized Caveman Cooking!) If you know their recipes are high quality, there’s a good chance your dishes will come out tasty every time!
- Pay attention to what you’re doing. Give your meals 100% of your attention (or as much as you can).
- Read the recipe at least once completely before you even touch the ingredients. This prevents you from accidentally skipping steps or doing things in the wrong order. Know what to be ready for!
- Have a back up plan. The other day I totally messed up a super simple chicken and veggie stir fry. (Even experienced cooks have trouble!) Luckily, I had a back up plan so I wasn’t stranded without food. Even if it’s something simple, make sure you always have a back up when you’re trying something new so you aren’t frustrated, stressed, and starving if something doesn’t go perfectly.
What do you do to get over your fears in the kitchen?
What is one of the things you’re most proud of having accomplished when it comes to cooking?
PS: We’ve been adding these recipes and a few dozen more to our Nerd Fitness Academy, which has recipes, meal plans, workout plans, and the ability to complete quests and missions and level up as you get healthier. Check it out!