Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kuku Paka: East African Chicken in Coconut Sauce

Madhur Jaffrey is a huge fan of Bimal Parmar’s East African Kuku Paka, which is chicken marinated in chilli, garlic and ginger and served in a creamy coconut ‘paka’ sauce — a delicious example of how African, Arab and Indian influences come together in this classic Swahili dish from the coastal region of Kenya. Featured in Jaffrey's 'Curry Nation' cookbook, this rich and creamy curry combines the wonderful flavour of coconut milk with the bright fragrance of ground Indian spices. Although the recipe suggests using chicken legs, bone-in chicken breasts or dark meaty thighs would be just as 'pukka'.

Madhur Jaffreys latest cookbook and recent addition to my ever expanding cooking library

Chicken in Coconut Sauce
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy Madhur Jaffrey

1 tsp finely chopped hot green chili
1 tsp each peeled, finely chopped ginger root and finely grated garlic
1/4 tsp salt

2 whole chicken legs, skinned, slashed 3 or 4 times
3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
6 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 1/2 tsp each finely grated garlic and ginger 
1 tsp finely chopped hot green chili
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp each chili powder and salt
1 9-ounce can coconut milk, shaken well
1 lime, quartered
Fresh coriander leaves

For the marinade, combine the green chili, ginger root, garlic and salt in a cup and rub well all over the chicken parts, including where it's slashed. Refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush the chicken with oil and place in a baking pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Juices should run clear when chicken is pricked with a fork. Let the chicken rest at room temperature for five minutes.

In a heavy frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil and cook onion for about five minutes or until lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger and green chili and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the tomato and cook until soft, about three minutes. Add the ground cumin and coriander, turmeric, chili powder and salt, stirring well. Mix in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Cook rapidly over medium-high heat, stirring until sauce thickens. Place the chicken in the sauce to heat it through, spooning the sauce over the chicken. Remove from heat, remove chicken from sauce and place on a warmed serving plate. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with lime wedges and fresh coriander.