braised chicken and sweet potato curry

I’m not much of a cook and I have very few culinary successes to my name. But this fantastic dish was a raging success, and I can’t wait to make it again, even though it took me over 3 hours to prepare! I saw it on Jenna’s Everything Blog, where the sight of the chicken cooked so tender it was falling off the fork, combined with sweet potatoes yams (I’m not sure if there even is a difference but sweet potatoes is what I used), was enough to have me drowning in saliva. I was due to host my good friends Sam and Bridget for dinner, so I threw caution and previously traumatic cooking experiences to the wind, and made this.

And it was absolutely fantastic. Hands-down the best thing I’ve ever made. If it didn’t involve hours of simmering (preceded by trimming chicken thighs…) I’d be doing it again tonight, and every night that follows. Sam and Bridgie, and my housemate Mansa, all raved about it too. I think we’re all still wishing now, a good 24 hours later, that we could go back in time and eat it again!

My photos are hideous, taken as they are with my Blackberry in terrible lighting. I suggest you check out Jenna’s blog for pretty and appetising pictures, and actual recipe details; my photos and commentary are more here for a laugh and to record this moment in history.

The first and most unpleasant task was the trimming of the chicken thighs — I never cook meat precisely because I detest touching it when it’s raw. Chicken is disgusting and I enrolled James to cheer me on for this part, because otherwise I might well have given up and served the sweet potatoes on their own (I’m so glad I didn’t).

In case you can’t tell from my face, I actually wanted to pose pretending to stab myself in the gut rather than touch another raw and bloody thigh. James left rapidly after this photo was taken.

Do you know what’s happening here? I’m using my fake Slap-Chop to chop the onions! This is the first time the Slap-Chop did its thing as advertised. $10 well spent. Kinda.

This is when I decided to redecorate the kitchen with spattered oil. Did you know that dropping raw chicken in very hot oil would cause it to spit like a water-fountain? I know this now. I feel very wise and kitchen-savvy. I’m glad I had paper towels for once.

This is the clever bit. You take all the fried chicken out (which had been coated in my secret mix of 2 herbs and spices aka salt and pepper) and keep the chickeny oil. Then you put in onions and garlic and ginger, all chopped up, and wait until they go golden and smell lush, then you add in the curry powder. I had never cooked with curry powder before. FACT. I didn’t burn it, thanks to Jenna’s advice.

(This is a fairly mediocre photo, so I thought I’d keep it upside-down for entertainment value) Then you add the stock, bay leaves, fried chicken, and SECRET INGREDIENT. I was going to make everyone guess at the secret ingredient, but I was too impatient so I told them straight away:
Me: Guess what the secret ingredient is?
Sam: …
Bridge: …
Mansa: … I can’t remember what they said but it was wrong. Or maybe they didn’t say anything cos they were too busy stuffing their faces.

Bananas look so gross when they’re cooking. They explode into these weird insectoid looking sludge pods! No photos. But then they just dissolve into nothing and make the sauce extra tasty.

Then it simmers away for 90 minutes. Then you add the sweet potato and it simmers more. Then you add sultanas. Then you gloat at how fantastic it all tastes (yes you keep syphoning it into a cup for a taste). Actually it’s a bit salty. Next time I’ll use less salty stock.

Then bang on time your guests arrive, and you step away from the stove for 2 freaking minutes to greet them, and then IT STARTS TO BURN. AFTER 3 HOURS OF COOKING PERFECTLY, IT STARTS TO STICK TO THE BOTTOM OF THE POT.

Fortunately we got to it just in time, and once I’d stopped panicking and served it up on some rice, it was smelling and tasting better than ever. It didn’t look that special, and presentation was somewhat lacking, but by this point everyone just wanted to bury their faces in their plates so I snapped a quick shot, and we were off!

I forgot to add the coriander in my haste… it looks well nasty (it’s not an easy thing to photograph…) but fear not. Just looking at it again makes me desperate to eat more of it right now!

Just like Christmas. Sam and Bridgie had brought me Cadbury’s Rosies chocolates (carefully annotated and then rapidly devoured), and Professor Layton 3, and Red Skins-infused vodka. It was a perfect evening!


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