Apr 7, 2010

Watercress- Turning a new 'leaf' in chicken curry

I have a terrible habit. Every time I visit the grocery, I am always drawn to buying something-- usually a type of fruit or vegetable-- that I have no idea how to use. And I end up using it in a dish I make-- adds that different level of twist which is usually good. I am told so at least :) Or I sometimes take the trouble to look up a dish with that vegetable. But that is never what I end up doing, given my averseness to recipes in general. 

One such thing I picked up on one such day--among many such days-- is watercress. It looked so lovely and so green and with so much texture and it was on sale too-- I had to buy it. A big big bunch. Also I was very drawn to how it still had its roots intact! I started out with just using it to garnish regular entrees. But soon it dawned on me, how fantastic the texture was. How nicely it held up its own. Whereas spinach and most greens just wilt down. Granted, Spinach is still my favorite. But watercress is slowly going up there. I found myself a new green to fall in love with. Watercress :)

I have to tell you this story. About greens and my history with it. I hated greens. Leafy greens even more. Cos back when I was teensy weensy, my grandmom fed me this horrible concoction of sweetened spinach because of apparent health benefits. It never made down my throat. And then later on of course, I found my mom, using these greens in such fantastic ways. Making it with mustard, peppers and coconut, with eggplant and allspice.  And I loved those. Also buying greens and trying a variety of those in grocery stores brings back the smell and feel of fresh veggie stalls that I used to visit with my mom...when there was time idle away a morning. 

Much later, I figured that these green dishes , although stand alone in their own rights..might actually add a different layer to chicken and fish dishes.  Especially chicken with white yogurt sauces-- a dish which brings out the best in my grandmom actually :) The green addition to such chicken dishes just looks so pretty..and tastes heavenly. So I started doing that. Some greens, sautéed with a little spice and just mixing it in with soups and white-sauced up chicken recipes. A totally new way of looking at food combinations. Some of the things I loved as a kid blended in with the tricks of the trade I learnt on my journey to becoming the happy cook I am today :)

So here is one such chicken dish..combining yogurt and water cress-- a traditional Indian ingredient with  a wild card entry  and  made with lots of love from your's truly  :)


1-2 lb of chicken. Boneless and skinless will be best. Chopped to bite size. Although feel free to use any kind that you are buying. But small pieces will obviously help the marriage between fine flavors and chicken :)

4-5 cloves of garlic. Grated
1 big onion. Chopped
Water cress-- half a big bunch. Use the leaves only. But I tend to use all of it. The stalks have a great flavor you know :). If you don't have water cress, Spinach is always a great substitute

2 tsp of ground coriander
1/2 tsp of sugar
1/2 cup  of yogurt. You can also use sour cream
Juice of half a lime. Freshly squeezed is best
1-1.5 cup of chicken broth. I use hot water as it is more calorie friendly version
4-5 tbsf Cooking oil. Light olive oil is what I use

Salt and pepper for seasoning

It is pretty simple actually

Whisk together the yogurt and the grated garlic and set aside. Marinate the chicken in lime juice and set aside for 10 min. In a big skillet, heat the oil. Once hot, saute the onion till slightly translucent. Add the chicken pieces and fry them slightly. Refrain from moving the chicken around, especially if you are using bigger pieces. Let em cook through on one side before flipping. Of course with boneless pieces, its more of a hand job :) :)

Anyways, once chicken kind of whitens, add the coriander and sugar and keep sautéing till all is well mixed. Once the aroma hits you, add the yoghurt-garlic mix and stir in everything to achieve a consistency..sort of. Add a cup of broth or even hot water. Cover and let cook through. 10 min. Check for drying up. If you do see things getting dry, feel free to lubricate it with some hot water.
Season with salt and pepper. 
Turn off heat and ...stir in the water cress or spinach. Leave things covered till you are ready to serve. The leafy greens absorbs the flavor in the covered pot.

Serve with jasmine or sticky rice. A lovely chicken curry...

Happy eating and healthy living


sayantani said...

good to see you after a long time. I first saw watercress in Nigella's show and yet to find them in India. the chicken dish looks lovely and am amazed at how the green still holds it colour in the gravy.

The Japanese Redneck said...

JW - if I saw the roots on it - then I would have been tempted to plant some to see if it would grow.

Don't think I've ever seen it in our grocery stores around here.

Jhonny walker said...

@ Sayantani :) Thanks girl. I don't believe I saw water cress in India. But then, in India there are so many varaities of leafy greens to try on..I would start with the robust long leaf basils..might be great :)

@ Ramona: Good idea! Maybe I will try as well :)

Chow and Chatter said...

oh good idea love the addition of the greens your funny

Olive said...

I love watercress, I've never tried adding it to a curry dish..I'll give it a try..thanks for sharing :)

Trix said...

Watercress really is so pretty and good. Great idea! I'll give it a try with fish, I think.

Jhonny walker said...

@ Rebecca, Oliva: thanks..and I totally encourage you guys to try this technique...will work great on any thing..well almost

@ Trix: With fish..this will be a winner all the way :)

Kathleen said...

This sounds great. I love the addition of the watercress

Amy said...

This sounds delicious! I am not always creative with chicken, as it's not my favorite meat, but I think this looks great. I'm going to add it to next week's meal plan!

Trish said...

Watercress eh? Interesting. You know, I too agree with the whole 'other level' when adding greens. Currently I have a big spinach fetish adding it to almost everything...maybe even a dessert? Grin. Anyway, sorry I have been absent for so long...I am having so much work at home and the office that I feel like a bottom feeder...only surfacing from time to time. Take care my friend. Love the recipe! Great photography too btw.

Jhonny walker said...

@ Kathleen: Thanks lady!

@ Amy: go for it and let me know how it went :)

@ Trish: Spinach..ahh my trusted fren. What can you not like by adding spinach...such a versatile green. I love spinach the most ..as I say in the post..but then exploring these other one is proving usdeful too

Thanks for the comments on my photographs :)
Take care and don't overwork :)

tasteofbeirut said...

I love watercress and its cousin , purslane (or mâche) we use it in our cuisine and make a salad called fattoush, to die for; I am glad your overcame your disgust for greens and this chicken dish looks lovely!