Curry is a popular dish around the world. In fact, in many places in Britain, the term applies to almost any kind of take-out food. The central element is the spice, or rather, the combination of spices that make up what we call “curry powder.”
Like many spice combinations from other parts of the world, there are many different mixes all called curry powder. Often, it differs from family to family. The term comes from the southern Indian Tamil word kari, meaning sauce. A similar spice mix is found in Northern India called garam marsala. In general, curry is made from coriander, turmeric, cumin, garlic and ginger. After Southern Asia was introduced to the Western World, especially the Americas, various kinds of chilis were added to the mix. Other ingredients found in some curry mixes are fenugreek, fennel seeds, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed and black pepper. If you notice that there are a lot of aromatics, you are properly observant. Aromatics are a common ingredient in Southern and Western Asia and Northern Africa.
Most of the ingredients for this dish are in your pantry, or should be. It works really good with leftover chicken and can accommodate other vegetables easily. Also, it’s quick, taking only a few minutes to prepare and cook. Accompanying this with cooked rice or cous cous is a very good way to serve this two person dish.
Right from the start, you will need some roasted chicken. If you have a baked or rotisserie chicken, that would be ideal. A cup or two chopped into bite-size pieces is all you need. We always recommend making a pot of rice every week or two. It’s versatile and can be used for any meal, even breakfast. So, you should have on hand some rice. If you don’t, make a pot as the first thing you do to make this dish. You can also make a pot of cous cous. Many people think this is a grain, like rice. But actually, it’s a type of pasta. It is easy to cook and comes in lots of flavors. Either side dish will go well with curry.
Another pantry item you should be sure to have on hand is hot chili oil or sauce. You will usually find this in the Asian foods aisle, with the Thai style items. While you might not use this very often, it will keep for a long time and a little goes a long way.
From the store, you will need to get about 2 cups of spinach. Baby spinach works best. Whether you buy loose spinach or bagged, be sure to wash it and give it a spin in your salad spinner. If you don’t, you’ll find the pan or wok spitting at you when you put the greens into the hot oil.
That brings us to the first step in making Chicken Spinach Curry, heating the pan or wok and then adding about one-and-a-half tablespoons of olive oil. Vegetable oil will also work. The flame should be on medium-low heat, so olive oil will work well. To the hot oil, add an equal amount of hot chili oil or sauce. When that’s hot, add in small handfuls the cleaned spinach and stir to coat in the oil. Keep stirring until the spinach is wilted. The greens will shrink a lot as they wilt. Then add the chicken, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of curry powder and two tablespoons of milk. Keep stirring the mixture until all the ingredients are well mixed. Keep an eye out for clumping. If you start to see the chicken or the spinach clumping, add a little more milk. Once everything is heated through, you’re done.
Serve this immediately over the rice or cous cous.