My Material Life

Samantha’s Birthday Curry (Rice Table)

I adopted this recipe from my friend Bev after she made it for a baby shower lunch that my Martino’s Interiors friends held for me in February 2004.  I say adopted because I really took it in and made it a part of the family!  I served it every year at Samantha’s family birthday parties through age 5 and even at 6, when I dropped the separate family party altogether, I served it for the adults and family at her kid party.  But not this year.  That would have been too much. It’s become such a tradition for me though, that I had to make it before the month got away.  So I had lunch for a few friends on the extremely rainy Thursday we had last week and this is what I served.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a copy of Bev’s recipe (it was her mother’s favorite luncheon recipe).  She calls it Mother’s Singapore Curry.  The Joy of Cooking (not the new one; I got my copy while I was still in college) calls it Rice Table. You can call it whatever you like.  It’s simply a mild chicken curry that’s served on top of a bed of rice.  The fun and flavor come from the condiments you choose to serve with it. My favorites are mango chutney, cucumber, tomato, fried onions, shredded coconut (unsweetened), apples and banana.  It’s just such a great dish for entertaining because you really only need to concentrate on the curry.  The rice is easy enough and prepping your condiments just takes a little time.  And, if you find a regular time to cook it each year, you can create a wonderful sense memory for your family.  Now whenever Dwight smells curry he says it smells like Samantha’s birthday.  And I think those are mostly happy memories for him (except for when I stress us out pre-party).

I’ve also posted a photo of the table and the curry from that baby shower seven years ago.  It was such a beautiful presentation.

Rice Table (adapted from the original Joy of Cooking)

Note:  This recipe fed 4 of us for lunch with one generous left-over serving. Double, triple or quadruple depending on how many people you are feeding.

  • 3 good-size pieces bone-in breast with the skin on
  • 2 – 14.5 oz cans coconut milk (I use Trader Joe’s – may be a little off on the exact number of ounces)
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 c finely chopped onion
  • 2″ length chopped ginger (not very precise I know; use less if you don’t want the heat, more if you do)
  • 1 chopped clove garlic
  • 1.5 – 2 T curry powder (I use Penzey’s Sweet Curry Powder)
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 T cornstarch

Put a little olive oil, salt and pepper on the chicken and roast it with the skin on for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  This is an Ina Garten trick.  Very tasty and easy way to cook the chicken.  When it is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred the chicken into pieces.  Put aside.

Melt butter in pan and saute onion in it until light brown.  Add ginger, garlic and curry powder.  Set aside.

Pour coconut milk into a pot and add chicken stock.  Mix 3 T of this liquid with the flour and cornstarch to make a paste.  Heat the coconut milk and chicken stock and stir the starch paste into it.  Cook and stir the sauce until it is hot and thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (It won’t need much.)  Add the onion mixture and the chicken.  Serve over rice.  Add condiments (have fun with these; see Bev’s mother’s recipe for more ideas). The Joy recommends serving with an ice-cold beer and following with a salad.  I say go with the beer, but skip the salad. The condiments are the salad.  Need a vegetarian option?  Use mushrooms instead of chicken and milk instead of chicken stock.

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