Indonesian Creamy Coconut Curry Recipe
This is actually a recipe my sister developed, but I had to include it here because this is the most gorgeous sunny yellow curry I’ve ever seen! Its not based on an authentic Indonesian recipe, but instead its inspired by ingredients traditionally used in Indonesian cuisine: sweet curry, ginger, garlic, coconut milk, cilantro, rice and chunks of chicken and vegetables. This is a sweet curry, there are no chiles added, and the vegetables are all familiar to kids, so its family friendly. (Those who want to spice it up more could serve the kids first, then add a little bit of a spicier curry powder or chili powder, or sliced chiles, to their own plates). Its also an easy, fast, one pot meal.
The Penzeys sweet curry powder contains turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, white pepper, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and cayenne.
SPICES TIP: I defer to my sister on matters related to Asian cuisine, her knowledge is far greater than mine. She really recommends that you purchase your sweet curry spices from Penzeys in order to get the best possible flavor. They actually are reasonably priced on the whole, so I can second that recommendation. I would further advise you to always purchase your spices by the bag, instead of buying jars (you’ll get a lot more for your money, you can share your spices with your friends and family, if you want your spices in bottles you can buy Empty Spice Bottles separately, or reuse small glass jars that once contained Dijon mustard, capers, etc.). I also recommend that you buy $30.00 worth of spices at a time to qualify for free shipping. (see site for details)
COCONUT MILK TIP: Since my sister is also the family expert on all things Asian cuisine, I also asked her about her favorite brand and type of coconut milk. She said all of them are pretty good, but she said her favorite was Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk. She said for this recipe you want to use the thick rather than the thin kind (also described as “lite”), and you want it unsweetened. You may be able to buy a single can at your local supermarket for around $3.00 – $3.75 a can, but if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get single cans of Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk for far less through Prime Pantry. If you aren’t an Amazon Prime member and you’re willing to buy coconut milk in slightly larger quantities, you can get a better price per can: there are both a Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk (6 Pack) and Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk (12 Pack) available for less than my local grocery stores and Amazon charge for the non-organic version (both include free shipping if you spend $35 total per order).
4 split chicken breasts, boned, cut into bite size pieces
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2 – 15 ounce cans of chicken broth
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or use peanut oil)
1 tablespoon Penzey’s sweet curry powder
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup minced cilantro stems (use leaves for garnish)
1 can of coconut milk
2 tablespoons potato starch
¼ cup cold water
White rice, jasmine rice, or Brown Jasmine Rice
Electric pressure cooker
12″ silicone tipped tongs
Long handled plastic or silicone ladle
Small container to mix the potato starch slurry
Spoon to mix up the slurry
PRESSURE COOKING TIP – Potato Starch v. Corn Starch: Potato Starch and corn starch are both used as thickeners in gravies, sauces and the like, but there are several important differences. When used as a thickening agent, potato starch tolerates higher temperatures than corn starch, which stops gelatinizing at 205° F (96° C) – well below the temperatures reached in pressure cooking. Cornstarch has a finer texture, and is prone to clumping, which can be problematic, especially with very hot food. Potato starch also has a more neutral taste than cornstarch, creates a more translucent and glossy finish, and gives your food a silkier mouthfeel. Potato starch also has specific baking applications. And unlike cornstarch, potato starch is kosher for Passover.
- 4 split chicken breasts, boned, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
- 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
- 2 – 15 ounce cans of chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or use peanut oil)
- 1 tablespoon Penzey’s sweet curry powder
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup minced cilantro stems (use leaves for garnish)
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- ¼ cup cold water
- White rice, jasmine rice, or Brown Jasmine Rice
- Peel and cut the onions, carrots and potatoes into bite size pieces. Mince the garlic and ginger. Mince the cilantro stems, reserving the leaves to garnish the finished dish.
- With lid OFF, start your pressure cooker on the "browning" setting. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, cumin, sweet curry powder, and chili powder. Sauté for 1 minute to bloom the spices. (This intensifies their flavor and aroma.)
- Add the onion pieces, minced garlic, minced ginger and chicken pieces and sauté for a few additional minutes, turning onion and chicken pieces using tongs.
- Add 2 cans of chicken broth, brown sugar, minced cilantro stems, potatoes and carrots to the pressure cooker pot. Lock lid. Cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 6 minutes using NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE.
- Once pressure is released, turn off the "keep warm" setting, and unlock the lid. Hold the lid over the pot, at an angle, to allow any hot liquid in the lid top to fall back into the pot and to keep steam away from you.
- In a small container, thoroughly blend the potato starch and water to create a "slurry". Make sure the potato starch is thoroughly dissolved and incorporated into the water.
- Add the coconut milk to the pressure cooker pot. Add the potato starch slurry as well, stirring gently but constantly. The mixture should thicken up very quickly.
- Serve sweet curry over steamed rice, garnished with chopped cilantro leaves you reserved earlier. For plain white rice, you can pressure cook it really quickly. For every 1 cup of rice, add 2 cups of water. Pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 3 minutes, using QUICK RELEASE (brown rice takes longer, but is much healthier).
VEGETABLE COCONUT CURRY: My sister says this recipe is great for gardeners or those who want to add more vegetables in their diet. She adds mushrooms, zucchini, and any kind of squash she has in the garden (cut into bite size pieces) to this curry. She also said peas or bok choy would work, but you'd have to add them after pressure cooking. (My research says fennel and sweet potato / yams would also work well, and that sweet potatoes are used a lot in Indonesian cooking.)
SEAFOOD COCONUT CURRY: Shellfish, fish and tuna also go well with this curry, if you want to use them. However, if you don't have any experience with pressure cooking seafood, it can be quite easy to overcook fish in a pressure cooker, and for it to either disintegrate, or toughen. Since the length of time needed to cook potatoes and carrots is probably longer than it would take for fish, I would recommend that you pressure cook them separately, using the timetables included with your pressure cooker, or there are several excellent pressure cooking cookbooks such as Pressure Perfect or Express Cooking that cover pressure cooking fish and seafood and have useful timetables.
PRESSURE COOKING TIP: Per The Pressured Cook, high temperatures used in pressure cooking can mute the flavors of some spices, and my own experience seems to indicate this is indeed the case. When adapting your own recipes to the pressure cooker, before adding additional spices to compensate, I would recommend that you try “blooming” the spices before pressure cooking (as was done in the recipe above). Blooming the spices means sautéing them very briefly (less than a minute) in a small amount of oil before adding the rest of the ingredients – this increases their fragrance and intensifies their flavor, and helps compensate for any dulling caused by cooking under pressure.