Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vincent Price's Chicken Curry and Baked Saffron Rice

Chicken Curry
From A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price (Grosset and Dunlap New York 1965, page 230)

Serves 6.

These curry recipes come from Reaj Ali, the Moslem chef of the Pierre's East Indian kitchen. According to him a curry is not really a curry unless you use coconut milk in it. It does improve the flavor, and we have found that with an electric blender coconut milk is easy to come by--once you have your coconut, that is! You can make a meat curry of this recipe simply by substituting three pounds diced raw beef, lamb, or veal for the chicken.

cooking oil or butter
canned tomatoes
bay leaf
salt, pepper
curry powder
coconut milk
(see index)

Remove the meat from: 2 tender frying chickens, each about 2 1/2 pounds (or use 5 pounds of chicken parts). A boning knife is a big help in cutting the raw meat from the bones, and you might ask your butcher to order the proper kind for you. Remove the chicken skin and cut meat into bite-sized pieces. The skin, bones, necks, backs, and wings may be used to make chicken stock.

1. In a heavy saucepan heat: 1/2 cup cooking oil or butter.

2. Add: 4 cloves garlic, chopped, 4 medium onions, chopped, and saute for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are golden.

3. Add: 2 whole canned tomatoes, chopped, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 6 cloves. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add the chicken meat and cook over high heat for 10 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, until most of the liquid in pan has steamed off. Reduce heat.

5. Add: 2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, and 1 tablespoon paprika. Stir to mix the spices with the chicken meat, being careful not to let the spices burn.

6. Add: 3 to 4 cups water, or enough to cover chicken meat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes.

7. Before serving add: 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk and heat gently.

The best part of curry is its presentation. It is always served with a rice, and with an assortment of condiments, each in a separate bowl or dish. This curry is served with Baked Saffron Rice, the recipe for which follows, and this suggested selection of condiments.

Curry Condiments:
chopped peanuts
Bombay duck
grated coconut
grated orange rind
candied ginger
white raisins
chopped fresh parsley
chopped hard-cooked eggs

Baked Saffron Rice

Serves 6.

garlic (optional)

1. Soak: 1/2 teaspoon saffron in 1 cup cold water for about 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to hot (400 F).

3. In a heavy casserole melt: 1/2 cup butter.

4. Add: 1 onion, chopped, 1 clove garlic, chopped (optional), and cook for 3 minutes, or until onion is soft.

5. Add: 2 cups raw rice and stir until rice is well coated with butter.

6. Add the saffron and water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and bake in hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove cover and stir to mix thoroughly.

7. Add: 2 cups boiling water, cover, and continue to bake for 15 minutes.

8. Turn off heat, fluff rice with 2 forks, and keep warm until ready to serve.

Personal Note: How cool is it that Vincent Price was actually super-cultured and into "the finer things in life"? He collected art, traveled the world, and amassed ethnic recipes way before it was fashionable to do so. The cookbook this came from is one of the gems in my parents' library--my mom did some research online trying to find another copy for me when I moved out, and discovered it's worth like 60-1o0 dollars! Anyway, this was the standard curry recipe my mom always used while my sister and I were growing up. She's branched out since then--she found an awesome one while I was in college that involves steeping spices in a tea infuser!--but I'll always have fond memories of this one. It's kind of savory and hearty in a way most modern authentic curries aren't. In a "good ol' days of 1950s-1970s suburban America" sort of way, even. Ha. And baked saffron rice?! You better believe it.

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