If like us, you are ‘rained in’ this half term holiday, you could be as bored as me. It is torrential here this afternoon and when that happens my thoughts always turn to cooking. I am not much of a ‘crafty’ Mum, so end up hitting the recipe books to try and find something to engage the children with before I ever consider getting the paint pots out. As we are at my Mum’s, I have got access to her lovely cookbooks and have found my favourite dinner recipe, which just so happens to be dairy free and gluten free.
It is a Malyasian style chicken, according to the heading in the handwritten notebook. This is one of the recipes she was taught at a cookery class many years ago and has long been a favourite of ours. I can’t credit it to any particular chef or cookbook, because it was taught at her class and to be honest we have tweaked it a bit over the years, so as far as I am concerned this is my Mum’s Malaysian Chicken.
Obviously, it is not as involving for a five year old as baking rock cakes, but there are still jobs for the children should they want to get involved. Some of the vegetables are peppers and mushrooms and they need to be chopped – so if your child wants to get involved why not let them tear them up with their hands. Quite easy, not much strength required and a lot of fun. So long as you don’t mind if the strips of pepper and chunks of mushroom are not particularly even in size.
We also need garlic, so the kids can have a go at peeling it and with some help can use a garlic crusher. We also use carrots and parsnips, so you could, if you are feeling brave, cut them in to batons and then place them into a plastic beaker or small glass. Your child could take some kids safety scissors and point them down into the glass and have a go at snipping the carrots and parsnips into chunks. You don’t have to do this, but it is just another way to get the children involved and give them a job. I first saw this demonstrated on I Can Cook on Cbeebies and it is a great idea.
They could even use the same method to help you chop the chicken into chunks, but you may prefer to do this as it is a more messy job and it is better if the chicken is in relatively even sized chunks as it will cook better. The other jobs you could give the children are pouring the coconut milk in, adding the stock and seasoning with salt and pepper.
As with all recipes you can alter the ingredients to your particular taste. You can make this a very mild dish if it is for the whole family or spice it up for adults who like a bit of heat. Either way, it is just a very simple, very quick dish that tastes deliciously creamy and warming – but is safe for anyone with dairy or gluten intolerance. Perfect for a day like today!!!!
So here is the recipe – enjoy. Sorry there is no picture. We actually made it last night, but we were so hungry that I forgot to take one. Will post one next time, I promise.
Mum’s Malaysian Chicken
1 tablespoon of oil (groundnut, sunflower, vegetable etc) whichever you prefer and can tolerate!
2 large onions – finely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic – finely chopped or crushed
1 heaped teaspoon of ginger – or one chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 red peppers – cut into strips (I chose red for colour contrast and sweetness, yellow or orange are fine too)
4 carrots – peeled and cut into small chunks
1 large parsnip – peeled and cut into small chunks (you could use sweet potato if you prefer)
8 chestnut mushrooms – quartered
6 chicken breasts – skinned and cut into evenly sized, quite large chunks
Half a pint of chicken stock (I use the Antony Worral Thompson gluten free stock cubes)
1 tin of coconut milk – any brand is fine, avoid low fat versions, as they are too watery
6 teaspoons of crunchy peanut butter – obviously nut allergy sufferers should leave this out, the recipe still works well without it. I tried it once, when I started making it and realised I didn’t actually have any peanut butter!
1 small tin of butter beans (chick peas work equally well)
1 heaped teaspoon of dried coriander
1 heaped teaspoon of turmeric
2 heaped teaspoons of cumin
1 heaped teaspoon of chilli powder
Salt and ground black pepper to season
Handful of fresh chopped coriander to garnish – but only if you like it, my Mum hates it so we leave it off for her but I love it as a final flourish
Heat the oil in the pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, carrots and parsnips and keep moving around the pan until they start to soften. Add coriander, turmeric, and chilli powder. Turn the heat down and cook gently for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms and peppers. Stir fry all together for a few minutes. Then remove all to a dish and set aside.
Next fry the chicken chunks in the pan you cooked the veg in, no need to clean it as it helps flavour the chicken. You might need a splash more oil if it is a bit dry. Season the chicken and keep moving it around the pan until it is coloured. Next add the ginger and cumin and keep it all moving around for another five minutes. You could add a splash of soy sauce at this point just to add a bit of extra flavour to the meat.
Once the meat is starting to really change colour add the chicken stock. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the vegetables etc back to the pan and let it all simmer for about five minutes. Next add the coconut milk followed by the peanut butter. Stir it all through, cover and simmer for about twenty minutes – or until the chicken looks cooked, the vegetables are soft and the sauce is quite thick. When it looks almost ready, add the drained butter beans or chick peas and cook for a further five minutes. Keep tasting as you go along to be sure you are happy with the flavour and if you are looking for more intensity add a few more sprinkles of the spices until it tastes right. Around five minutes after the beans/peas are added it should be ready.
Serve with rice. Or you could try it with buckwheat or rice noodles – makes it a bit more like a Malaysian Laksa – which is just as lovely in my opinion. And remember the final flourish of fresh chopped coriander is optional too.