Like the seasons of the year or mood swings of a person I go through seasons of food cravings. Sometimes I feel they develop from being stuck in a rut of lack of creativity in cooking, grasping at a new thought, ingredient, or way of cooking old recipes in new ways. Yet sometimes it’s really just to fulfill weird cravings. In the UK I started to realize how much I miss local NYC food, and this doesn’t mean burgers, fries, and pizza (well maybe the pizza, tears… the pizza) this means the food in my neighborhood. Many neighborhoods in Brooklyn are so diverse that you can get off the train stop and grab a burrito, walk five streets and suddenly be in Chinatown, then 5 more and pick up some Turkish olives… truly amazing. My cravings vary in weeks, some days I’ll make the same mundane food with nothing worth sharing (sorry guys), and some days I realize that I can make or attempt to make the food I miss at home. This turkey coconut curry recipe is from my Asian cravings week, it was a week of me cooking ramen soups, Thai mango chicken, curries, fried rice and several stir fries. One day, a coworker of mine, gave me an amazing packet of hand mixed spices that she used for curries. That little pouch got me hooked into making my own and experimenting with more flavors, bases, and ingredients. This recipe involves marinating the diced turkey meat in a yogurt/buttermilk/curry marinade to moisten and flavor the meat. I used turkey over chicken this time for an enhanced flavor in the curry. The rest is quite simple, curries are about spice, and if you have the right spices you will have a great curry. This recipe involves a fusion of spices, madras hot curry powder is your base, followed by onions, garlic, fresh cilantro, ginger-garlic paste and some kefir lime leaves for a Thai addition. The kefir lime leaves and the cilantro add an almost citrus taste to the curry, making it feel fresher and brighter.
Since I am a potato fanatic, I needed to add these in, I love potatoes that have been simmering in curry, I personally love them more than the meat in the curries. Tomatoes are chopped up and added in as they are another base to a flavorful curry.
The madras hot curry powder is cooked with oil to create a paste, then the onions and garlic are tossed into the pan and coated with the curry oil. Once the onions start to become translucent and have absorbed some of the curry oil, the turkey is added and quickly cooks along side the onions and garlic. At this point your whole kitchen will be filled with this amazing smell.
Once the turkey is cooked through, the remaining spices, potatoes, tomatoes and chilies are added in and shortly sautéed to get them started. After about 5 minutes the coconut milk and stock are added to make this dish a creamy and slightly soupy turkey coconut curry.
Now comes the best part, the simmering of the curry. The heat is reduced to low and the curry simmers for a good 35-45 minutes until the potatoes are soft, the meat is really tender and the curry is thick and fragrant.
At this point you can add a few additional chilies or more curry powder. In my past experience I noticed that the store bought pre-mixed curry powders tend to lack in some flavors, I always supplement for more spices until I get the flavor I want, I encourage you to do the same.
A bit more turmeric, a pinch of garlic, some coriander or cumin, a bay leaf or two, it’s really a taste test game until you get it right.
Turkey coconut curry is best served over basmati rice or green lentils. It tastes great paired with some warm fresh naan… and maybe even a mango lassi or a bunch of home dried mini chilies for a cuteness factor to the spice.
- 1 lb turkey thigh meat, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 1 cup yogurt, or enough to cover the meat, greek or natural
- 4 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon madras hot curry (or mild)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 teaspoons madras hot curry powder, or more
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- Marinaded diced turkey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic-ginger paste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
- 1-2 kefir lime leaves, fresh or dried
- 4 baby potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 14oz can coconut milk (or coconut paste and water to dilute)
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
- additional ground turmeric, coriander, ginger, overall curry powder to taste
- 2-3 small red or green chilies (optional)
- In a cup combine the yogurt, buttermilk, madras curry powder and mix well. In a small bowl combine the diced turkey with the yogurt marinade and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for 2 hours, removing from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
- In a large saucepan warm olive oil and curry powder over medium heat until the powder has dissolved and becomes a thick paste, about 2-3 minutes. Add the onions and continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring to coat everything with the curry oil as well as to avoid burning the onions. Add the crush garlic and cook an additional minute. Remove the turkey from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off before adding to the pan. Cook the diced turkey 10 minutes or until it it throughly cooked.
- Add the salt, garlic-ginger paste, cilantro, lime leaves, potatoes, tomatoes, and sauté for 3-5 minutes before adding the coconut milk, and stock. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35-45 minutes until the turkey is tender and the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Stir the curry occasionally to reduce sticking on the bottom of the pot as well as adding any additional seasoning needed (some curry powders have adequate seasoning while others might not be so potent, this is why it is encouraged to add extra spices when needed to improve flavor)
- Best served over basmati rice or green lentils.
- Makes 4 servings