If I can say anything about this dish, it is that it requires you to think outside of the box a little. We are sometimes so accustomed to our orthodox dishes, that we wrinkle up our noses at the thought of anything a bit different before we’ve even tried it. If you don’t try something new, you might be missing out on something great, and that’s not only just about food.
I suppose you can call it a Trini alternative to India’s Biryani, but I like to call it curried pelau. It is cooked in a similar fashion to our local stewed pelau, with some ingredients that is common to both dishes. The major differences with this dish are, that it is curried instead of stewed and that it uses basmati rice, instead of brown rice traditionally used in our pelau.
If you’ve never heard about pelau before, it’s basically a hodgepodge of ingredients designed to make a one-pot meal. It’s like a jambalaya or a paella of sorts.
Now I am in love with this dish for 3 reasons; it’s pretty easy to make, it’s a jazzed up alternative to the regular curried chicken and rice we’ve grown accustomed to, and it tastes great. Served with some tomatoes choka, I bet you’ll be coming back to tell me how much you love me! All jokes aside though, the flavours in this dish will wow you, so step outside of the box a little and try it today!
Recipe:1 ¼ cups basmati rice – washed ½ pound of chicken 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 cans Shiitake mushrooms cut into 1/3 pieces 1 cup frozen pigeon peas 5 pods cardamom (split the pods open just a bit) 1 ½ -2 tablespoons Madras curry powder 1 ½ tablespoons amchar masala 2 teaspoons ground cumin/geera ½ teaspoon whole cumin/geera 50 grams coconut milk powder 4 ½ cups water 4 pimiento peppers – sliced ½ teaspoon chopped chadon beni/cilantro 1 medium onion sliced 2 cloves garlic – minced 2 bouillon cubes Salt to taste 1 ½ tablespoons green seasoning In a pot add 1 cup frozen pigeon peas, 1/2 tablespoon amchar masala, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and ½ teaspoon salt and allow it to boil on low-medium heat, until most of the water has evaporated.
In the meantime:
- Season the chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ tablespoon green seasoning and set aside.
- Season the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon green seasoning, pimentos and the onion.
- In a pot, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and allow it to heat up over medium heat.
- Add ½ teaspoon whole cumin and 1 pod cardamom and allow it to cook for a minute, so that your oil gets nicely flavoured.
- Add the 1 ½ – 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder, 1 tablespoon amchar masala, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and ¼ cups water and cook until all the water has evaporated and grainy paste is form.
- Add the seasoned chicken and allow it to cook on low to medium heat, for 15 minutes. The chicken should spring its own juices to allow this cooking process, however, if it doesn’t, just add some water.
- Add the seasoned mushrooms to the chicken, and allow it to cook for 10 more minutes, adding more liquid if necessary.
- Add the peas, rice, chopped chadon beni, minced garlic, 4 pods cardamom, cooked pigeon peas and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the coconut milk powder, 2 ¼ cups water and the bouillon cubes.
- Cook until the water has evaporated and the rice has fully cooked.
If you’re vegetarian, you can easily omit the chicken for a wonderful veggie curried rice.