This is an East African dish with Indian origins. Not surprisingly as the Indian culture permeates many of the cities of Kenya and the east coast of Africa. According to my sources, Kuku means “chicken” in Swahili and Paka is the Punjabi word for “delicious.” And delicious this is! Any dish with ginger, garlic, coconut and curry has me salivating. The sauce is very similar to another Galley Pirates dish, Shrimp with Coconut Curry. I could put this sauce on anything!
4 large chicken thighs
Salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne for seasoning
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
4-5 cloves garlic
1 large onion
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cans garbanzo beans
1 can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons curry powder
3 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro for garnish
Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper and cayenne and set aside.
Mince the garlic and ginger. If you have a Ulu, an Alaskan chopping bowl with curved knife, now is the time to use it. Chop the onion. Pierce two Habañeros with a knife. This releases their heat and flavor but keeps them in tact for easy extraction with tongs before serving. (or you can leave them in and see if anyone is crazy enough to eat one. I wouldn’t advise it!) Chop the tomatoes and set aside.
Light your stove burner and heat the Canola Oil in your largest pot. Canola Oil is a good oil to use for high temperature cooking. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towel. They will have sweated a bit with the salt seasoning. The best way to brown chicken breasts…or any meat for that matter…is to make sure it is as dry as you can get it before hitting the hot oil. Once your oil starts to smoke lay the breasts in the pan, skin side down, and cover with a lid to prevent splattering. Sear for 5 minutes on medium to high heat, then turn with tongs. Sear the other side for another 5 minutes. Remove the thighs to a platter while you prepare the sauce. Keep the oil and all the rendered chicken fat in the pan.
Lower the heat under your pan and sauté the garlic, ginger, onion and Habañeros in the oil for 5 minutes.
Add the Garbanzo beans. Stir until heated through. Then lightly smash the beans with the back of a wooden paddle, or use a potato masher. You want them to be only slightly schmooshed. (that’s an official cooking term!)
Now add the rest of the ingredients to your pan…the tomatoes, lemon juice, coconut milk, water, seasonings. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken thighs to the pot. Cover, bring the flame down to low. Sit back and enjoy a Tusker Lager while this simmers for 20 minutes.
Make a pot of white rice while this simmers.
Remove the Habañeros with tongs. Serve hot on white rice and garnish with cilantro.
This is spicy! So you might want beer, not red wine with this meal. But these brave pirates will drink whatever is available! Good boat people. Enjoy!