Well things are going well. The restaurant has been super busy with the great weather and we are catering two large events this weekend, both high-end events, one a wedding and the other a big lunch for one of the non-profits here in Reno. I think the count is at a bit over 300 at this point.
Everyone has been calm until today and now the stress is starting to work its way around the place. Menus are being finalized, shopping lists are starting to be made and we are trying to figure out where to put everything. We have no space in the restaurant and even less refrigeration as many of you know.
The great thing about this business though is that you don’t have any choice but to get it done. You can’t be late, you can’t skimp on the ingredients and you have to bring your A game every time or you quickly find yourself out of business. Fortunately for me, Megan and Nancy have been doing this, with limited resources, for the past 6 years. All I really need to do is to do as I’m told and not ask questions. Ha ha.
So with the stress of the week I decided I would handle the cooking for the family last night. I bookmarked a chicken curry recipe from eatingwell.com not long ago and I thought it was time. I love curry, and especially enjoy the smell when we make our chicken curry salad for the restaurant.
For a bit of background on my first first-hand curry encounter we need to go back a bit over a year ago. I had started at Dish, most important was the fact that I was coming from a sales and marketing background. Other than working at Lyon’s Restaurant when I was 18 as a dishwasher I had no experience. Granted I heard all the stories from Nancy for the prior 5 years, but as Megan still says “Joe you always find the hardest way to complete a task”.
When I first started it was hard to be the co-owner of the place when I didn’t even know what the heck I was doing. Granted I increased our catering business at a drastic rate in the first few months, but I didn’t have a good grasp on how to complete the day-to-day activities of the business. Yes I knew how to do some cooking and I could handle the customers and the cash register, though I didn’t write tickets too well, still don’t actually.
So one day, trying to help out, learn and garner some respect from the employees, I told our prep cook that the next time the chicken curry needed to be made I would take care of it for him.
Well soon enough the day came and in typical Dish fashion they threw a half written recipe at me, yelled out a few instructions and said thanks and all went back to doing whatever it was they were doing. Now not only did I not have any idea what chicken curry was all about, I had four lunch caterings I was trying to organize that day. I knew I didn’t have enough time to complete it, but I was trying to get respect from my employees and get in the trenches with them. So I said, “Sure, okay, I’ll do it”.
I then surveyed the place trying to find somewhere to prep and put my portable burner so I could get going. My usual space, behind the front counter, was being used by another employee who was making Greek Salads en masse for the caterings. Somehow I found a small place with a table that would do. Unfortunately it was about as far away as you could get from everyone else in the restaurant and far from the kitchen. Resulting in… back and forth to the kitchen to ask questions, get spoons, knives, etc. DOH!
Needless to say about 20 minutes into it, I had completed about 5 minutes of work and beads of sweat were starting to appear on my forehead. My employees, who could see I was stressed and in over my head just watched in amusement as I fumbled around and generally made a fool of myself. None of them said a word though. Finally Nancy came over, thank God, and told me to get back to the counter and finish overseeing the catering orders and she would finish the curry.
It took me another month or so until I tried again… I came in on a Sunday night when everyone was gone and made it for Monday morning. Everything worked out well and I saved face.
Back to present time. This recipe worked out great. It was super easy to make, which I like since I made it after work. It didn’t take long and it tasted great. Both boys ate two helpings and neither are super curry fans. I really enjoyed the yogurt sauce as well instead of a coconut-milk-based sauce, which Randy has some issues with.
Definitely give it a try! I made it with brown basmati rice which I cooked for 45 minutes after it started to boil. To spice it up as well I added a teaspoon of coriander and half teaspoon of cumin along with a tablespoon of butter and a good pinch of salt to the rice and water before it started to boil. Nancy made some steamed rainbow chard with salt and butter to serve alongside. The boys said this was not bad, and ate some. These are “greens” and are high in nutrients, so steam some up and serve ‘em to the kiddos.
Low Calorie Chicken Curry with Yogurt Sauce (serves 4)
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped – I like onions so I used a large onion
- 1.5 pounds boneless chicken breasts, skinned and cubed into 1.5 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (can sub 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon & 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you like
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 2 cups low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in onions and garlic and saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Make sure to not burn the garlic. Just reduce the heat if it’s cooking too fast. Add the chicken and saute until browned. Add the water, coriander, ginger, cumin, cardamom, cayenne, raisins and apricot preserves.
Simmer uncovered until chicken is cooked and the liquid is mostly absorbed and/or evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes.
Slowly stir cornstarch into the yogurt until dissolved. Add mixture into the pan and stir to incorporate. Simmer gently, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Do not boil or the sauce will separate. Season with salt and pepper.
Eat it and enjoy. Please pass on other ideas to help me with my Curry Cooking Quest!
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