My favorite things to eat Zen Zero downtown are the curries. I love love love curries, and here is my first attempt to make it at home. This curry - creamy from coconut milk, simmered with shallots and garlic and ginger, and fragrant with spices - is very good. Don't be intimidated by the number of ingredients, it's actually very easy to pull together. I found a lovely rice recipe as well, both courtesy of my trusty copy of "The Gourmet Cookbook" (Ruth Reichl is a god). See both below.
I no longer have a fear of making my own curries, in fact I'm already looking for new recipes to keep trying. Now all I have to do is find a good Tom Kah Gai recipe, and I'll never need to go to Zen Zero again...
Malaysian Style Chicken Curry
3 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2-in. piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
1/2 c. chopped carrot
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 Tbsp. curry powder
7 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 of a jalapeno chile, slit lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
1 star anise
Garnish: 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
Finely chop shallots, garlic, and ginger in a food processor, scraping down sides frequently. Add water and puree to a paste.
Season chicken with salt. Heat oil in a 5-quart wide pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown chicken pieces, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Add onions and carrot to the pot, and saute about 5 minutes as well. Transfer to large plate.
Reduce heat to moderately low, add shallot paste, and cook (stirring constantly) for about 1 minute. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chicken, onion, and carrot back to the pot. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes.
Remove lid and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened (about 10 minutes). Discard jalapeno, cinnamon stick, clove, and star anise.
Serve over rice. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.
Basmati Rice with Cilantro
1 c. basmati rice
1 3/4 c. water
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Place rice and water in a saucepan. Soak for 20 minutes. Bring to a boil on stovetop, then cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes. Toss rice with remaining ingredients, and serve.