Braised Chicken Curry with Yams

I had forgotten all about this recipe until a few weeks ago I was casting about in my memory for delicious stews to counteract the winter chill . . . and I remembered. All of a sudden, the flavor of this dish came rushing back and I knew I had to make it immediately.

The original recipe comes from Ming Tsai’s East Meets West, which I checked out of the library in Delaware years ago. I had scribbled some brief instructions on a lined sheet of paper which was subsequently swallowed up in my recipe binder where it lived for a few years, forgotten and alone. Until now! Though I loved the base flavor of the original recipe, I wanted some more texture and ‘zing’, so I added some golden raisins and cilantro to finish it off. It’s perfection.

Don’t hesitate–just make it!


(Serves 6)

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 TBS olive oil

2 large onions

2 TBS minced garlic

1 TBS minced ginger (heaping!)

1/3 c Madras curry powder (fresh as possible)

4 c chicken stock

1 large banana (or 2 small ones)

2 bay leaves

2 large yams, peeled and cubed

1/3 c golden raisins

Garnish with cilantro and blanched almonds, coconut flakes, or lime juice

First, trim the chicken thighs. For some reason the fat on chicken thighs really grosses me out, though I’m immune to the fat of pork or steak.

Now pat them dry (super important!–this will help them brown well) and put salt and pepper all over both sides of them. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When it’s very hot, add the chicken thighs. You may want to do this in two batches, because if you overcrowd the pot they will steam instead of frying.

It’s important to take your time during this step, because you want a really nice sear. It will probably take 10 minutes per batch. Don’t hurry though–you’re building flavor.

While the thighs are browning, roughly chop the onion. Very roughly.

No mirepoix required here, thank you very much.

Mince the garlic and ginger as well.

You should also have plenty of time to peel and chop the banana.

Once the thighs are done browning, remove them to a plate. They should look something like this:

Your pot will now look something like this:

Without cleaning it, dump the onion, ginger and garlic into the pot . . .

. . . and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until they’re getting golden and wonderful. Stir often so that you don’t burn the garlic! Right now your entire household will come to the kitchen to investigate what that heavenly smell is. Use your tongs with impunity to defend the pot and beat them back.

Now add the curry powder.

What a gorgeous, gorgeous yellow.

Stir constantly and vigorously for no more than 2 minutes. The spices need a couple minutes to get fragrant, but they also burn easily, so keep the ingredients in constant motion.

I should also mention that having the chicken stock handy is important, so that you don’t have to stop stirring. If you burn that curry powder, the flavor of the dish will be . . . not right.

Pour in the chicken stock . . .

. . . and add the bay leaves and banana.

Stir to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pot.

Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and add the chicken back in.

Cover the pot, but leave a little vent for the steam to come out.

Let it simmer for an hour and a half. During this time, the banana will completely dissolve. The flavor it adds is wonderful, but nobody would guess it was created by a banana. If you peak into the pot after half an hour, the banana will look frightening and disturbing. I actually poked at it and asked out loud “What the heck is this thing?” before a logical process of elimination revealed it was the very banana I had peeled and chopped with my own two hands not thirty minutes prior. So don’t peak, and just trust the fact that by the end of the hour and a half it will have completely disappeared.

If you get ravenous, grab a snack. This chocolate from a Big Jake food shipment came in handy. You can see proof that he delights in a good deal by the orange 50 cent sticker.

You should also use this time to peel your yams . . .

. . . and chop them into medium sized cubes.

And rinse and chop some cilantro if you plan on using that.

After 90 minutes, take the lid off the pot and smell the goodness at hand.

Now grab those yams, add them to the pot and give it a good stir to submerge them.

Cook for 30 more minutes with the pot partially covered–but no longer than that or your yams will get really mushy. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the golden raisins.

They will get plump and delicious, and they add a fun burst of texture and flavor.

Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.

Top it with cilantro. Or blanched almonds. Or peanuts! Or lime juice! Or just eat it as is.

The chicken is fork-tender. Mmmmmm.

I also tried sprinkling it with coconut flakes:

Delicious. You can tell this was a different night because the color of the plate has changed.

Make it! It’s fall, and I can’t think of anything else I want for dinner at this moment. A bowl of this magic would hit the spot.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Braised Chicken Curry with Yams

This entry was posted in Cooking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Braised Chicken Curry with Yams

  1. This dish look wonderful! Love the bright colors & presentation. I don’t think I’ve seen a banana used in a sauce like this… Sounds deeelish!!

  2. Wendi says:

    Jenna, that’s a big pot of WOW! Looks like it would be perfect for a chilly fall dinner.

  3. Katerina says:

    So many beautiful ingredients in it! I love the addition of raisins. I use them a lot in my stews too.

  4. Weighting For 50 says:

    Holy smokes Jenna, this looks incredible. Already bookmarked and will be made soon!!!

  5. Sarah says:

    these pics are so pretty! i wanna eat it now :)

  6. oneordinaryday says:

    This dish sounds delicious. I love the flavor curry brings to things, but the banana totally threw me. How interesting!

    Also want to say thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog!
    ~ Michelle

  7. claire says:

    the colors of this are gorgeous!

    i am aslo jealous of your dishes and that big bad le crueset pot!

  8. Twinky Satterthwaite says:

    Ah YES!! God’s three gifts to the cook: fresh onion, fresh ginger, fresh garlic!! It HAS to be good if a recipe calls for all three =-)
    The banana ingredient is indeed a surprise, but curries seem to beg for a hint or an addition of tropical fruity sweet.
    Hooray for Big Jake bargains!!

  9. this sounds so heavenly right now… i am in love. thanks for sharing this.

  10. Beautiful curry, looks very inviting! And as usual great job with the photos :)

  11. Veronica says:

    I’m totally down with the type of dishes you’ve been posting. I HAVE to try this one next. My mouth is watering!

  12. Veronica says:

    I also have a request: could you include a printable recipe link on your food posts? To save this recipe in Word, I had to go through and copy all the text in between the pics, which took longer than if I could either print the recipe or copy it all in one place. I use for my own printable links, which is free, but there are probably other ways to do this.

    • Jenna says:

      Did the link at the bottom work? I include a ‘link’ to a Word document with the text of the recipe exactly for that purpose (it’s all the way at the bottom where it says “Click here for printer friendly version”). . . let me know if you have trouble opening it! I’d love to have a printable ‘page’ instead of just a Word document, but I’m not sure how to do that in wordpress.

      • Veronica says:

        Oh, dude! I can’t believe I read through the whole post and still didn’t notice the huge link! Duh. Thanks for pointing that out–I’ll just use that. You don’t have to do it another way–that’s perfect, at least for my purposes. I have wordpress too. I just copy the recipe into a Google document (you have to create a google acct if you don’t have one) and save it so it’s viewable by everyone and then a box pops up with the link and to the document so I can create a hyperlink in my post. But you don’t have to go through all that trouble unless you want to!

      • Jenna says:

        Heh heh, no biggie. I’m notorious for being like “I can’t find the ketchup” when it’s right in front of me the whole time. My Mom can testify to this fact. =)

  13. Juliana says:

    Jenna, what a interesting chicken dish…banana, raisins and curry…I am sure that taste delicious…will have to try this out since I have all the ingredients handy. Beautiful pictures :-)

  14. Rosa says:

    That curry looks so beautiful and spicy! I am drooling…



  15. Circe says:

    you make cooking look so easy, and you have beautiful pots, maybe I’ll have to try my hand at it, but I’ll wait for Sunday night dinner

  16. Lisa says:

    Thank you thank you for this recipe! Would you believe I’ve been looking for a chicken banana curry recipe all this time? Seriously. Then, lo and behold I come across yours. I would love to make it, but only have yellow curry powder, not madras. Would that be okay do you think? Thanks for visiting my blog (so that I could find your amazing recipe).

    • Jenna says:

      Whoa! What a coincidence! =) I love it when things work out like that. Anyway, yes–yellow curry powder would work fine too. In fact, I used a curry powder blend a friend had made for me (not Madras), so no worries. The fresher the better though, since spices lose their ‘oomph’ as they age.

  17. Kathryn says:

    Yummmm! The banana part really surprised me, but it looks scrumptious so I just might have to give it a whirl!

  18. orange says:

    I’m a mediocre cook and fairly scared of cooking for people but this has inspired me! I’ll be cooking it on Sunday night for my guests! I’ll report back!!!

  19. Ria says:

    Hi, thanks for your comment on my blog :)
    Wow, i’ve never seen a banana used in a dish like curry. But i’m drooling just by looking at this dish… :)

  20. Pingback: Braised chicken and sweet potato curry « today I did this for me

  21. Vesper says:

    Could you do this in a crockpot?

    • Jenna says:

      I’m sure it could be adapted, as long as you brown the thighs before they go in. I wish I knew more about crockpot cookery to give you an estimated cook time, etc, but I rarely cook with them. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out if you make it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s