Pumpkin Curry

By Posted in - General on October 21st, 2014 1 Comments IMG_5288

 

Oh, heavens, how long has it been since I’ve posted a recipe? I’ve been working on lots of new recipes, but they’re mostly for Savor–it has more than 20 recipes in it. And the big news about Savor is that it’s totally finished–hurrah! I sent off the finalfinalfinalfinalfinal proofs on Sunday afternoon, so it’s official–it will be in your hands in the springtime, and I’m really happy with it. I hope you will be, too.

Aaron had planned a dinner party for last night, and while originally I thought the kids and I had plans, we ended up free, and I’m so glad. Aaron had planned takeout sushi, which I always love, but I asked if I could cook instead. Sometimes after a busy weekend away, what puts me back together is a couple hours in the kitchen–music on, wine poured, knife in motion against the cutting board.

I knew that two of the people joining us eat gluten-free and dairy-free, and one doesn’t eat red meat. I also knew that one of the friends who was coming loves the mango chicken curry that I’ve been making for years. I knew I could modify the curry to make it gluten-free, but mango felt too tropical for a Chicago fall evening…and then I thought of pumpkin: autumnal, creamy, sweet–a great replacement for the mango.

If you’ve made the Mango Chicken Curry from Bread & Wine, you’ll recognize the bones of it here, but in a slightly different order of preparation–one I like better. It’s completely gluten-free, now omitting the flour dredge in the old recipe. And here I’m using chicken thighs instead of breasts, which I think is a good move–both more flavorful, and less expensive.

There’s not a ton of pumpkin flavor–just a hint, and the creaminess and richness of it, so feel free to add more if you want a more pronounced pumpkin taste.

We served the curry with brown basmati rice, warm whole wheat naan, and a salad of arugula, honeycrisps, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds with balsamic vinaigrette. Before dinner,  I set out a bowl of cashews, another of green grapes, and some hummus with gluten-free crackers, and our guests brought some beautiful wines. For dessert, we had blueberry crisp, and with it we passed around cartons of vanilla ice cream, soy ice cream, and salted caramel gelato…and a bowl of TimTams, the delicious Australian cookies, brought by two of our guests who were from Sydney. Yum! We put candles in the crisp and sang to our dear friend Jon, who’s turning 40 this week.

There were nine of us around the table, weaving together a conversation about this city, about justice and art and connection, about faith and culture, about love and peacemaking and TimTams.  I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it again: there is nothing in the world like life around the table. This is a busy season for us–having just finished a book, starting another, speaking every week till Thanksgiving (me), nurturing and building a new ministry, recording the next New Liturgy (Aaron). It’s easy to hunker down, pull away from people, let the calendar & commitments shove out connection. But it’s so very life-giving to carve out just a tiny bit of space to meet once again at the table. It’s so worth it.

Pumpkin Curry

Ingredients:

2 ½-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces

olive oil

1-2 tbsp curry powder (We use more like 2 tbsp, and it’s hot madras curry, but play around with the right amount for your table)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (Again, add it pinch by pinch and taste as you go. How much cayenne you want will depend on how spicy your curry powder is, and how much heat your family & friends prefer. We like a fair amount of heat…)

salt

3 small onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped

4 cups chicken broth

1 can pumpkin puree

4 red bell pepper, chopped

6 roma tomatoes, diced

1 cups currants or raisins

3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Instructions:

Over medium heat, add 1-2 tbsp olive oil to a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, add half chicken thighs, and then sprinkle them with half the curry powder, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook until browned, about five minutes, then add the remaining chicken, sprinkling with remaining spices. But remember, go easy on both the curry and the cayenne—you can always add more along the way. Set aside.

In the same pan, add another 1-2 tbsp olive oil, then add onions. After the onion begins to soften, add ginger and garlic and cook until golden and fragrant.

Add chicken back to the pan, lower heat to medium low, add broth and pumpkin. Stir well, allow to simmer for a minute, and then taste for seasoning.

Add red peppers, tomatoes, and raisins and simmer until softened and heated through, about 20-30 minutes.

Off heat, add cilantro and basil.

If you find the curry to be too spicy, feel free to serve a bowl of plain yogurt with it, so that people can add a spoonful to cool it. And because this version is gluten free, there’s not a lot to thicken it the way flour usually does, so it will feel more like a soup you ladle over rice, so we served it in wide, shallow bowls instead of on plates.

And as ever, it’s better the next day.

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