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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Foodie Penpal Guest post by Natalie Gibbs

Hi Readers!
I am Hazel's penpal Natalie. My little family lives in North Carolina, outside a minor town called Fayetteville, surrounded by cotton fields and the occasional trailer or horse. I am originally an urban girl from Seattle who's had short stop overs in Oahu and Richmond on my road to NC. I miss my Starbucks and 5 Targets within 20 miles! I am also a new Army wife (at least it feels new- 2 years?) and mom to a little ball of personality named Georgiana- who is turning 1 this month!

I love all things foreign... I am the girl who was thrilled! to do country reports in school, obsessed with Asian Supermarkets, and is annoyed I am a huge mix of blah European heritage that my family never cared to share or explore. I was so excited to be paired with my British penpal- they have the coolest things (bring on the Earl Grey)! After an exchange of emails, I received a extremely thoughtful foreign filled ethnic food box. Such loot! Channa Masala and Apricot Chicken Curry recipes and ingredients, quality flavored British teas, unique European brand flavored nuts (with ingredients such as chili and mango), and homemade Basil and Pinenut pesto (excess of basil results in fun gifts and tasty food products- been there!). The typed letter and enclosed instructions were wonderful to read for clarity and fun explanation. I have never had a penpal so detailed :)

When asked to do a post, which surprisingly in my years time doing foodie penpals had never happened, I thought it would be fun to cook one of the recipes I was sent to share with you. Hazel's Apricot Chicken Curry toddler recipe (sourced from her favorite British baby food maker's book) sounded delicious, but unfortunately my little tot only has one tooth- that did not stop me from selecting the recipe for my Husband and I- more for us! To accommodate adult appetites, I doubled the toddler version (originally stated yield was 2-3 toddler portions). Previously, I have only attempted Japanese curry (more like yummy gravy!) and Thai red curry. Indian curry always seemed so daunting.

Steps I took-
I cooked one minced shallot in a good heavy swirl of olive oil in a deep fry pan on medium head for about a minute.

I added 4 heavy handed teaspoons of mild curry to the shallots and toasted the curry for less than a minute with the shallots- stirring to coat the shallots and the pan. 

I chopped 8 moist, dried apricots and opened a can of creamy coconut milk. After added the apricots and coconut milk to the curried shallots,I brought the mixture to a boil (happened really fast) and then reduced and simmered for 5 minutes. 

I started 2/3 cup brown jasmine rice is my rice cooker to accompany the curry. I cut up about a half a pound of raw chicken tenders and added them to the curry mixture. I set the timer for 15 minutes since the chicken was cut in smaller pieces and because the curry was already on the thicker side. I placed a nice sized premade piece of naan in the oven a few minutes before the curry finished to heat through.

End product! Yum!
Things I discovered cooking Apricot Chicken Curry recipe- The sauce thickens quickly when using full fat coconut milk (we usually use light coconut milk), the chicken stays really moist and fork tender simmered in a thick coconut curry, the apricots can be cut as larger chunks (maybe that would make their flavor pop more?), tastes fabulous with naan!, and the recipe version tested makes two perfect plate licking portions.

Also, that sirachi goes on anything? So says the Husband!

When starting the recipe, my Husband was hovering to smell the flavors and as we ended our meal he was a member of the clean plate club. Great evidence of a wonder experience and tasty dinner thanks to my wonderful penpal. I was blown away by how easy it was to make Indian curry. From the very beginning the recipe was simple to follow and drool inspiring. I am so jealous that English people have such easy access to curries! I will trade them my access to Hispanic food anyday! More curries- less Taco Bell and Azteca please! ;)   
Please try it for yourself- I promise you will love it- we did! Hopefully one day Georgiana will get more teeth and I can start her on her path to being a toddler foodie with Apricot Chicken Curry versus her current dinner eats.

Thank you to Natalie for her guest post and how cute is Georgiana!


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