Since we are still at the turn of the New Year, many of you had sent me requests for tasty, healthy options, after all, one good choice leads to another. Such requests would often send me to a salad suggestion, however, our serial snow storms are in full swing and a salad feels like a flavorful frost bite in the mouth at best.
One of my favorite meals on a cold day is ‘Secco’. This Peruvian curry is lighter than it’s counterparts and far more aromatic. For those of you belonging to the anti-cilantro community (www.ihatecilantro.com), I offer my sympathies and for those of you who enjoy this citrus overtoned herb, you are in for a healthy treat. This ethnic champion will stoke the fire in your belly and keep you warm and satisfied for the rest of the night. In addition to the ‘feel good factor’ brought on by this dish, there is also an element of history with the culmination of Native Indian, Spanish and African influences.
This curry of chicken, cilantro, potatoes and peas is spicy, peppery and it’s broth like consistency adds a quality of cleanliness to the dish. This complete meal consisting of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins also comes with a fringe benefit of speed, ease and convenience.
2lb chicken thighs on the bone (does not require slicing)
1 diced onion
1 head of a medium sized minced garlic
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup of chicken stock
1 large carrot sliced in to discs
2 Serrano peppers or 1 Jalapeno
8 baby potatoes chopped in half
1 tablespoon of Aji Amarillo (available at any Latin specialty stores) or a splash of lemon juice
1) Sauté onions and garlic until translucent
2) Add the chicken and sauté for 7 minutes
3) In a blender, liquidize the cilantro and chicken stock and cook for a further 2 minutes
4) Add the Serrano peppers, potatoes, carrots
5) Once potatoes are soft, add the peas
6) Add the Aji Amarillo and season with salt and pepper
This dish can absolutely be eaten on it’s own with just a simple salad of lime soaked red onions. However, if you are feeding an army of hungry people, serve with rice and butter beans.
Pearls of Wisdom
You do not need to add lots of water or stock to this stew. The cilantro has a fair amount of water content which comes out when heat is applied. The stock needs to just cover the chicken and vegetables.
If you don’t have aji Amarillo, splash a little lemon juice in to the soup. Of course, this won’t replace the aji but it will add a little of the sourness that is in the sauce.