This recipe can be easily considered as a free range, with a variety of options for the type of meat, selection of vegetables, thickness of the sauce and the level of heat in it.
- Meat options can include diced lamb or chicken, or larger chicken pieces on the bone, both skinless or with the skin on. Chicken on the bone will add more flavour to the sauce.
- Vegetable options can vary, too. The major one are onions, carrots, celery, red capsicum or red sweet chili pepper, zucchini or eggplant. On top of that you can add any other vegetables you like.
- One or two cans of coconut milk can be used. Using only coconut milk, without water added, will give thicker sauce, and will give the dish more Asian flavour.
- The choice of spices is unusual, but I enjoy the taste they create. I started with turmeric added to the mix, but did not like the overall taste, and had to balance it with lots of ginger and some honey. I also noticed that fresh ginger can have different flavour intensity, so I had to add it during cooking 3 times on some occasions. As the conclusion after cooking this dish for several times, I would suggest to taste the level of heat and the seasoning in the middle of cooking and adjust according to your desired flavour balance and heat.
- In winter time I like to have lots of sauce, in that case the dish can be considered as a thick soup and can be better served in a bowl.
- 6-8 chicken drumsticks, depending on their size
- 1 zucchini/eggplant
- 4 carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 leek (one another onion)
- 3-4 celery sticks
- 1 red capsicum/red sweet chili pepper
- 400ml can of organic coconut milk/coconut cream
- 2 table spoons of olive oil
- 2 heaped tea spoons of cumin powder
- 3-4 tea spoons of sweet paprika
- 3-4 sticks of thyme
- generous pinch of fennel seeds
- pinch of saffron threads
- 2 cloves of garlic
- deseeded bird’s eye chilli (I replace garlic and chilli with my own fermented spicy preserve, I used 4 tea spoons)
- 30-35g piece of fresh ginger (can be replaced with organic minced ginger from a jar)
- salt and coarse black pepper to taste
- wash and fully dry chicken pieces on paper towel
- heat one spoon of olive oil in a pan and lightly fry chicken (optional)
- if cooking in the same casserole dish, take chicken out
- chop and dice vegetables, onion and leek in semi-circles, sweet pepper/capsicum in long strips (when chicken pieces on the bone are used, the dish will be cooked for a long time, and I like to have larger vegetable pieces, but any size is fine)
- heat the second table spoon of olive oil in a casserole dish, add fennel seeds
- lightly fry onion and leek until just translucent, season them in the process
- add carrots, celery, capsicum, stir (if using eggplant, add it together with all other vegetables, if using zucchini, add them 15min before the end of cooking)
- fry vegetables on medium heat for 5 min
- return chicken pieces to the pan, place them closer to the bottom of the pan and cover with vegetables
- mix the contents of the coconut milk can, pour coconut milk into the pan
- add all spices and herbs, add salt and pepper
- I used my own garlic and chili preserve
- add boiling water (or extra coconut milk) to just cover vegetables
- cook on low heat, simmering for 2 hours (I used very large chicken drumsticks)
- if using zucchini, add them 15min before the end of cooking time
- let the dish rest for 15-20min before serving
- serve with steamed vegetables or just as a thick soup in a bowl
Even with chicken on the bone, the dish will be fully cooked within an hour, but I like when my meat is super soft and moist and falls from the bone. Longer cooking time also allows to develop deeper flavour. If cooking diced meat one or one and a half hour cooking time will be sufficient.
For those readers, who can tolerate some pseudo-grains, which are not allowed on the ingredients list in this blog, this dish can be served with cooked quinoa or buckwheat. Photo below is included just as an illustration how chicken is falling of the bone when cooked in this sauce for a long time. I had my meal served with gluten free pasta.
This dish keeps well in the fridge for several days and can be frozen without any loss of flavours.