Cashew and Chickpea Curry

The spices used in Indian cooking have some amazing, healing benefits. Turmeric, the spice that gives curry it’s bright yellow color, has been used to fight cancer, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. It can decrease chronic pain and and is a natural immunity booster. Why have I not been cooking with this? Honestly, I was intimidated by it. So often, we make the same things over and over because we are scared to reach out of our cooking “comfort box”. We really should be taking advantage of the variety of cuisine available throughout the world. And not just by ordering take-out. I decided to challenge myself to come up with an easy, healthy, and delicious curry. It took a few tries, but I did it! Ladled over a bowl of hot brown rice, this dish is an amazing and impressive one dish meal to feed your family and your friends.

Ingredients (Easily serves 4 hungry adults, and the leftovers just get better):
Boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 1/2 pound
Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans (same thing), 1 standard can, rinsed and drained
Tomatoes, 4 plum, chopped
Red onion, 1 average, diced
Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
Ginger, 2 tsp (1 inch), peeled and minced
Light coconut milk, 1 cup
Greek yogurt, 1 cup (I used 2% from Trader Joe’s)
Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp
Cilantro, 1/3 cup, coarsely chopped
Roasted cashews, 1/4 – 1/2 cup, to your preference, coarsely chopped
Cooked brown rice, 3 cups, I used short grain

Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp
Mild (or sweet) curry powder, 2 tsp
Smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp
Turmeric, 1/2 tsp
Ground cumin, 1/2 tsp
Ground coriander, 1/2 tsp
Ground cayenne, 1/2 tsp (or more to taste, Annie was fine with this amount)
Sea salt, 1 tsp
Fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp
Yellow mustard seeds, 1 tsp (if unavailable, you may purchase them here)

Preparations (15 minutes):
1.  Prepare the spices:  Measure out all ingredients listed under “seasonings” and place in a small bowl or ramekin.  Stir to combine and take a whiff.  This will get you excited about dinner!  Set aside (if you can).
2.  Slicing and dicing:  Dice one red onion.  Mince 3 cloves garlic and 2 tsp of ginger.  Quarter 4 plum tomatoes.  Coarsely chop 1/3 cup cilantro and 1/4 – 1/2 cup roasted cashews.  Remove all vegetables from cutting board.  Using kitchen shears (this is the easiest way), cut about 1/2 pound of chicken into 1/2 – 1 inch cubes.  Wash hands thoroughly.
3.  Prepare the simmer sauce:  Measure and combine 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 cup light coconut milk.  (The remaining coconut milk can be frozen for up to three months or tastes great in smoothies!)
4.  Drain and rinse chickpeas.  (I use Eden Organics brand canned beans.  At the time of publishing, it is the only brand of canned beans that I have found to be BPA-free.  If you know of others, please let me know!)
5.  Promptly cover and refrigerate all ingredients (excluding the cashews and spices) if not utilizing within the hour.

Instructions (17 minutes hands on time + 25 minutes simmer time):
1.  Gather equipment and prepared, measured ingredients.
2.  Saute the onion.  Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and heat an additional 30 seconds, until oil shimmers.  Add diced onion and saute for 5 – 7 minutes, until nice and tender.
3.  Toast the spices.  Add minced garlic, ginger, and combined spices to skillet.  Stir continuously for 2 minutes, being mindful not to let the spices burn.  The yellow mustard seeds may begin to pop like popcorn, this is fine.
4.  Get your simmer on.  Add tomatoes, chickpeas, chicken, and simmer sauce (coconut milk and yogurt) to skillet.  Stir constantly until mixture comes just to a boil (2 – 3 minutes).  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5  Getting it on the table:  Place 3 cups of hot, cooked brown rice in the bottom of a large serving bowl.  Pour curry mixture on top.  Garnish with chopped cashews and cilantro.  Serve and enjoy! 

Notes:  This is a kid-friendly meal that you can feel proud feeding your family and friends.  Greek yogurt is full of probiotics (which promotes a healthy digestive tract), and coconut milk is getting tons of press lately for being the next big thing in keeping skin supple as we age (I’ve got to be a little bit vain).  Vegetarians can easily omit the chicken and add an extra can of beans, and those with nut allergies can simply omit the cashews.  This dish is naturally gluten-free.

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