Help with Indian chicken recipe
I've started a recipe for an informal dinner tomorrow night and guess I didn't think it through. It's for Kerala-style Chicken Curry from Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Easy, whereonions, garlic, ginger are sauteed in oil, mustard and cumin seeds before skinless chicken is added. Then it is simmered in water until the chicken is done. The liquid is then cooked down, and coconut milk is added.
The chicken is tender, and it tastes and smells good--but it looks pretty unappealing and not something I am going to be happy serving to guests. It basically just looks like boiled chicken with spices floating in the ever so slightly colored (brownish gold from the mustard seeds and browned onions) water. I wonder if I should remove the bones to make it prettier, or if it will be ok once I add the coconut. I don't know what I expected, but not this. I was planning on serving it with red thai rice, or maybe just basmati, along with some butternut squash in cubes and seasonings and making some poori. Maybe I should add the squash to the chicken dish instead to liven it up?
Ideas or suggestions?
I would not remove chicken from bone. Right before serving add chopped green (chives, scallions, cilantro, watercress, or/and parsley) also you could scatter some chopped (cherry) tomatoes.
Others gave you good advice about how the dish will thicken up a little when you add coconut milk and heat.
Re sprinkling green herbs on top - be careful. Watercress and parsley are NOT in the Indian food spectrum so please don't use those. You could consider cilantro (traditional in North India, not the South, where this recipe originates from), or scallions. Better still, use fresh or frozen curry leaves, which are authentic to the region. Simmer them in the sauce to bring out the flavor.
Don't scatter chopped tomatoes. However, that suggestion has merit in that you do need shot of color in your menu. Your chicken dish is whitish (since I think it does not use turmeric, you won't get a golden color); and the butternut squash is pale orange.
You need a note of green/red, so consider a dry green bean dish. To remain in the South India / Kerala theme try this: wash, trim, and thinly slice say, 1/2 lb of green beans. In a wok or skillet, add 1 tbsp cooking oil. Saute: urad dal, hing, mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add 1-2 green chillies thin sliced + 1/2 tbsp fresh grated ginger; 5-6 curry leaves. Saute for 1/2minute. Add green beans, mix, and saute (covered, stirring occasionally) till done. Salt to taste, and sprinkle with a little freshly grated coconut for a note of white (optional). Once your beans are sliced and ingredients assembled, this dish takes < 15 mins from start to finish.
You could use yardlong beans, or thin sliced mix of red+green bell pepper (less traditional but v tasty), or even asparagus.
I like the idea of the green beans as a side along with the squash, thanks. And the recipe calls for curry or basil leaves--I don't have access to the former, but do have basil so I will go that route. I will have to see if I can't find frozen curry leaves for future use.
Thanks for the other ideas and reassurance. It does smell really nice, just wish it were prettier. I am waiting on cooking it down and adding the coconut milk until tomorrow right before dinner, so I hope you are all right about it improving in appearance at that point!