This Chicken Curry with Cilantro Lime Rice comes together in just 30 minutes, and makes for a delicious, flavorful weeknight meal. Read on, or jump straight to the recipe HERE.
Curries are one of the most diverse and interesting category of dishes I can think of. So many cultures have their own versions, and the ingredient lists can easily span the length of your arm, creating some of the most complex flavors.
But curries can also be astoundingly simple to make. With just a handful of spices and a can of coconut milk (or some broth) you can have a healthy and flavorful meal ready in the time it takes to make a pot of rice.
Any true curry lover will tell you that fresh spices are best. That you should grind your own, and always toast the spices right before you use them. That’s sound advice, but it doesn’t mean you need to do a ton of work to make a good curry.
I’m just a midwestern girl, so I basically have no right to be preaching to you about curries… but I do have some thoughts on how to make delicious spice-filled dishes without a lot of effort or special ingredients.
First, I’m a firm believer that quality spices matter. Buuuut I’m also really lazy… and I don’t always grind my spices fresh right before I use them. (Shhh!) Instead, I try to buy my spices in the bulk section (you can do this at places like Whole Foods, but I prefer dedicated spice shops like Penzey’s).
Not only are the spices in the bulk section fresher than the jarred ones, but you can buy a small amount at a time (for just a few cents) and actually use up what you have instead of owning a giant jar that will languish in your spice cabinet for years.
I find that buying my spices this way actually saves money, as opposed to buying whole jarfuls.
My second tip is to always let your spices toast in oil. Whether you’ve ground your spices fresh, or are using pre-ground spices, add them to the pan with the onions/garlic/oil and let them cook for a few minutes before continuing with the recipe. This goes for any recipe, not just this one. The flavor compounds in spices are often fat soluble, and they need a bit of heat and oil to “bloom.”
Translation: sauteing your spices for a minute or two will bring out their full flavor potential, making whatever dish you’re cooking taste its very best.
Because quick, healthy curries like this one take so little time and effort to make, they tend to be one of the first things I turn to when I’m in a cooking rut.
No matter what I have in the fridge, I can almost always turn out a delicious, soul-satisfying meal I can feel good about.
- 2 TBSP coconut oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. curry powder (I used 1 tsp. each sweet and hot curry powder -- depending on how spicy your curry powder is, and how hot you like your food, you may want to use slightly more or less)
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. ground corriander (freshly ground if possible, but not necessary)
- ½ tsp. ground cumin (freshly ground if possible, but not necessary)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 2 star anise
- 1 14-oz. can lite or regular coconut milk
- 1 lb. chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 2 cups cooked rice (I typically use brown rice, but used jasmine in these photos)*
- ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- zest of one lime
- lime wedges, for serving
- Before starting on your curry, get the rice cooking. You can cook your rice according to the package directions, or in a rice cooker, or you can find a link to my method in the recipe notes below. When the rice is finished cooking, stir in the cilantro and lime zest while the rice is still hot. Serve warm.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and saute about 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the spices, salt, fresh ginger, and star anise, and let cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring so the spices are saturated with the coconut oil.
- Add the coconut milk, stir to combine, and nestle the chicken breasts into the pan. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked all the way through.
- Using a couple of forks, shred the chicken. (If you're using a non-stick pan, I suggest removing the chicken to a bowl to avoid scratching the pan's coating, then return the shredded chicken to the pan.)
- Remove the star anise, and stir in the peas and cilantro. Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed. (Note: if the curry is too spicy for your liking, you can add additional coconut milk, a pinch of sugar, or serve the curry with a cooling sauce of plain yogurt mixed with mint. Future batches can be made with less curry powder, adjusted to your liking.)
Curries are one of my favorite dishes to make, in part because they are so versatile. This curry can easily be made vegetarian or even vegan by swapping the chicken for a couple cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed).