~ Indian: Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup ~
I am an all-American girl who loves Indian food, especially curry. I don't claim to be an expert on Indian cuisine, but, I dabble in it enough to know how to put "a pinch of this and a dash of that" in a pot or a pan and come up with an Indian-style dish that would make anyone who enjoys the flavors of India happy. What I'm attempting to say is, this is by no means an authentic Indian soup recipe -- a least not that I know of. The recipe didn't come to me from a person or a book. It is simply a fine-tasting soup developed by me for me. The crockpot renders this really easy to make, and, it's a great way to introduce Indian flavor and fare to your family's dinner table!
A bit about curry and curry powder: "Curry" is a catch-all English term used in Western cultures to denote stewlike dishes from Southern and Southeast Asian cuisines that are cooked in a sauce containing herbs, spices and chile peppers, and, in Southern India, "kari" is the word for "sauce". Curry powder (the commercially marketed blend of spices we buy in our American markets) doesn't exist in India. The closest thing to Western curry powder in an Indian kitchen is garam masala (ga-RAHM mah-SAH-lah). It's a pulverized blend of dry spices, the amounts of which vary to suit the palate of each family or cook. It's said that garam masala is the precursor to curry powder, having been prepared by Indian merchants and sold to members of the British Colonial government who called it "curry powder". I purchase a very good brand at my Indian market.
Dishes called curry are relatively easy to prepare and can contain meat, poultry, fish or shellfish. Seasonal vegetables can be included, or, the dish can be made of vegetables (vegetarian). Curries can be "wet" or "dry". What is common to almost all wet curries is the use of cream, coconut milk or yogurt, and occasionally stock, to prepare the sauce. They don't tend to be overly-thickened (gravylike), and, they aren't spicy hot (although they can be). This style of cooking evolved out of necessity. Water was often scarce and/or its use in cooking had to be avoided, so, the "creamers" were used as a silky, rich, substitution for water, not as a thickener. Dry curries are cooked in very little liquid in sealed pots. Almost all of the liquid evaporates during the cooking process, leaving the ingredients heavily coated in the spice mixture.
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders
4 cups 1/2" diced peeled sweet potatoes
2 cups 1/4" coined carrots
1 1/2 cups diced yellow or sweet onion
2 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken stock
2 14 1/2-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 15-ounce can 100% pumpkin
For the spices (pictured above):
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon amchur powder (Note: This powder, made by drying tart green mangos and powdering them is going to add a pleasant citrusy tang to this curry. It is available in all Indian markets, but, if you don't have access to it, feel free to substitute fresh lime juice.)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon coaresly-ground black pepper
a generous 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 whole bay leaves
2 whole cinnamon sticks
~Step 1. Arrange the chicken tenders in the bottom of the crock. Add the sweet potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic, followed by the chicken stock, coconut milk and pumpkin. Add all of the spices, as listed. Give the mixture a brief stir, put the lid on and cook for 4 hours on high setting. Resist the urge to lift the lid during this 4 hours. Reset the crockpot to low setting and cook for an additional 1-2 hours (two hours renders the chicken super soft which I love).
~ Step 2. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the chicken tenders, place them on a cutting board, and, using one or two forks, shred each one into small pieces. Return shredded chicken to soup and give it a good stir.
Note: At this point I let the soup sit in the crockpot, on warm setting, for 15 -30 minutes prior to serving, to allow the shredded chicken time to take on some of the aromatic flavors of the broth. There's more, as with many things, this soup tastes even better the second day, so don't hesitate to make it a day ahead. Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.
Warm up Winter with some nice creamy aromatic Indian spice!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; 6 1/2-quart crockpot; large spoon and/or large slotted spoon
Cook's Note: For another crockpot chicken soup with a Tex-Mex theme (that also uses 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders -- buy a large package and make one soup one day and the other the next), you can find my recipe for ~ Easy-Does-It Chicken Enchilada Soup ~ in Categories 2, 13 or 20.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)