Hello Disney Food People! It feels like I haven’t seen you in forever. You look fantastic? Did you lose weight? I need to feed you something delicious, don’t I? Well, I have just the thing.
Today, I am going to recreate something from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Boma restaurant called “Coconut Curry Chicken Soup.” Some Disney recipes call it a stew, and it is a hybrid of sorts as I will explain.
I make no secret of my Italian heritage, but what many people don’t know is that among all the pasta and tomato sauce type dishes my mom prepared as I grew up, she also made curry. My mom had an Indian friend (I forgot his name) who taught her how to make all sorts of curries, and she made Beef Curry at least 2 times a month. So, for me, Curry was a taste I grew up with and was introduced to at a very early age. In other words, I absolutely LOVE the taste of curry. If you don’t know what curry tastes like, just try it. It is a mixture of many ancient old herbs and spices that create a Kaleidoscope of flavor on your palate.
As usual, the recipe’s instructions will be bolded for easy reference should you wish to print this out and skip my commentary. It’s just going to make for a bland read, and I think you need some spice in your life. Just sayin’!
You will need:
1 chicken, whole – cut in eight
8 ounces onions, diced chunky
8 ounces red bell peppers, diced chunky
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
8 ounces potatoes, diced chunky
8 ounce diced tomatoes, drained
8 ounces coconut milk
3 tablespoons curry powder, toasted
1 quart chicken stock
5 ounces honey
4 ounces oil
½ cup cilantro, chopped
To taste cayenne pepper (adjust/add slowly)
To taste salt and pepper
Roux (3 ounces butter and 3 ounces flour)
Now, before we begin, let me say that this recipe feels like it was written by a Chef, for a Chef. It’s vague and simple. It says things like “cook until done” without giving any sort of a timeline or hint as to what the final product should be. I am going to try and clear it up based on my firsthand experience in cooking this dish.
Also, I am not a fan of all chicken parts. I eat white meat chicken breast only, so opted to use Chicken Breasts rather than a whole Chicken. You may decide to do the same based on your preference.
1. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon curry powder. Sear chicken in the skillet until golden brown and ¾ done. Set aside.
Simple enough — let’s season our chicken with some salt and pepper and be sure to coat it well with some curry powder. I am not scared of curry (which really is not very hot on its own) so I likely used more than directed.
You can sear the chicken in a skillet, or as I did in a George Foreman type grill. It’s very difficult to get chicken to a ¾ done status without it either being raw or overcooked.
When you think it is just DONE — or when it is no longer pink, remove it. It will be cooked more in the soup/stew we are going to make.
A word on Curry Powder. You may see many different types of Curry sold in the stores. Even the McCormick Curry powder is fine as are other store brands. They all have a slightly different flavor profile, and it will take time to find the one that might be your favorite.
If you are lucky enough to have an Indian friend or an authentic Indian foods store near you, go in and ask for their own Curry powder, or see what they recommend. They will almost always have a fresh curry powder they are very proud of. It’s a staple in good Indian cuisine.
2. Melt butter and stir in flour to make a roux and set aside.
A roux is basically a thickening agent of flour and fat — in this case, the fat being butter. You simply melt the butter, stir in the flour, and you have this gloppy mixture as seen in the pics.
Why they tell you to set it aside is beyond me, because we are ready to use it right away in the next step.
3. Heat chicken stock, curry powder, coconut milk and roux. Let simmer until thickened.
What detail! I was like — well, how thick do you want it to be?
I simmered it all for about 15 minutes and did not witness any major thickening. Because the recipe said “soup”, I assumed I didn’t really want anything too thick, so I moved on.
Had I simmered it more and allowed it to reduce, I am sure it would have become thicker.
4. Add the vegetables (except the cilantro) and seared chicken. Cook until chicken is done.
This next step is really beautiful. I had a moment of enjoying what nature could produce. Really. Don’t laugh AT me.
The colors were great. I had this yellowish curry, in which I could see the reddest red bell pepper, the greenest green jalapeno, etc. It was a feast of colors and smelled delicious.
I disagree with the recipe in saying “cook until chicken is done.” The Chicken will be done prior to the potatoes so I would amend that line to “cook until potatoes are done.” This could take between 15-25 minutes depending upon how big your chunks of potatoes are.
5. Add honey and cayenne pepper. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with cilantro.
I added some salt and very little cayenne pepper. You can ruin a meal quickly if you go even slightly overboard on the cayenne. If you do not like spicy foods, SKIP THE CAYENNE!
Cilantro is another herb that most people either love or hate. Skip it if you wish. The smell can be gross but then it can add a fabulous flavor to the recipe. Use your own judgment. Same thing with the honey. I found it was not needed but a little sweetness can do just the trick!
The finished result was definitely a hearty soup and yes, even a little stew like. With a little more flour in the Roux, this could definitely have been a thicker Stew.
If I had to change anything, I would likely add some more potatoes or even serve it over rice. I wanted a bit more starch to make it a real entree, but that’s just me.
I loved this recipe. The flavors are so distinct and the coconut milk does not overwhelm the soup. It just gives it a creamy subtle offset to the spicy curry.
I just had some for lunch (the day after), and it was thicker and tastier the next day. Like most foods, the next day does wonders for this recipe and I thought it was delicious before.
It’s not hard to make, and I hope to hear YOUR comments and what you thought/think of it. Please let me know.
I am planning a dessert next time – soon – so thanks again for allowing me into your kitchen and keep wishing upon those stars! BIG HUGS from Chef BigFatPanda!
Thanks again, John! Remember, all, you can watch for Chef BigFatPanda’s column posts right here! Who knows what he’ll make for us next time!