Tess Ward, Chef and Food Writer and Creator of http://www.tessward.com
– Cookbook ‘The Naked Diet’ released with Quadrille April 2015
Perhaps I have always been a little biased when it comes to healthy food. I grew up in a household when ashwaganda, chia and spirulina were as common as milk and sugar, (not that I gave two hoots about them, then) but I certainly had a lucky head start. It was only after getting very ill in India (amoebic dysentery and a parasite that was undetected for 5 years) that I started to take a true interest in wholesome healthful cooking. It was a process of trial and error, learning as I went, followed by an intensive course at Le Cordon Bleu (training as a chef) then a year studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I quickly learnt that we put into our body everyday is crucial. It is responsible creating out energy, optimising body function and giving us energy and keeping us vibrant and well.
I now feel blessed for my experiences, some of which I didn’t appreciate at the time, and am grateful that it is now my job to share good food with others and work create recipes for others to enjoy. Many thanks to the lovely Lynne for allowing me to share one of my favourite quick and easy curry recipes with you, her lovely readers.
Let me just say now, I advocate the quinoa burger and nut milk revolution as much as the next healthy foodie, but I feel the importance of good quality meat is getting lost somewhere along the way. Meat is good, it provides protein, beneficial vitamins and effectively satiates the body. It is also damn delicious but it has to be good quality. Free range and organic meat I am a stickler for. I feel it is better to have two days a week without so you can splash out on better quality when you do. It is also more cost-effective to buy the cheaper and tastier cuts, like drumsticks then the breasts.
It is all about supplementing the good stuff with more good stuff and finding cheats and tricks to make your favourite foods easy, quick, healthful and delicious.
This curry is lovely with the addition of wilted spinach, steamed broccoli or sautéed kale. Although it is really inauthentic, I like to serve it with Tzatziki and steamed or egg fried rice too.
Here are a few easy kitchen swaps :
- single cream for coconut milk
- wheat-based pizza dough for spelt, or gluten-free (I have a great spelt pizza recipe on http://www.tessward.com)
- sugar for honey, or coconut sugar
- homogenized cows milk for nut milk
- sunflower oil for coconut oil
- margarine for grass-fed butter
- sweet chilli sauce for harissa
Coconut Chicken Curry
- 400ml can coconut milk
- small bunch coriander
- 6 large garlic cloves
- small piece fresh root ginger, quartered
- 1-2 green chillies
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 8 skinless chicken thighs or drumsticks
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1½ tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp madras curry powder
- Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan and set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining spices, to release their flavour.
- Whizz together the spices, garlic, coriander stalks, onion, ginger and chillies in a food processor with a little water to make a paste.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Brown the chicken pieces well on all sides, then remove. Add paste to the pan, then cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Return the chicken, then add the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, then cook for 40-50 mins, removing the lid halfway through cooking so the sauce can thicken. Check the chicken is cooked, stir in the tamarind paste, season to taste, then add a splash of water if the sauce has thickened too much.