KUKU PAKA (Coconut Chicken Curry)

SERVES 4 OR 6

Ingredients
3/4 cup coconut milk powder, divided
2 large or 3 medium yellow onions, diced
3 tbsp ghee
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1/2 to 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
4 whole cloves
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided
2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, such as thighs and drumsticks (about 8 pieces), skin removed, or boneless,
skinless chicken, cut into 1 ½ -inch pieces
2 medium potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1½ -inch cubes
1 large carrot, cut into ½ -inch coins (optional)
A handful of green beans, stemmed and cut into 1 ¼ -inch pieces (optional)

METHOD
Place 1/2 cup of the coconut milk powder in a medium nonstick skillet.
Turn the heat to medium-low and dry-toast, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the powder becomes a very light shade of brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a medium Dutch oven or heavy saucepan, saute the onions in the ghee until they begin to soften and brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, and chilli, stir and cook 5 minutes.
Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves, and fry for a minute to allow the spices to bloom, be sure to stir so they don’t stick and burn.
Add the toasted coconut powder, salt, and ½ cup of the warm water; stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the chicken and stir. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir the remaining ¼ cup coconut milk powder in the remaining ¾ cup warm water to dissolve.
Add to the pot and increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, decrease the heat to low, and cover; cook, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes, add the carrots and green beans, if using; otherwise, cook for 40 to 45 minutes, until the curry has thickened slightly, and the chicken and potatoes are cooked through.
If the curry is still too thin after 45 minutes, turn the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until slightly reduced, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Serve alongside flatbread or basmati rice.

ABOUT
THIS DISH
A local adaptation of the Indian curries introduced by 19th-century South Asian traders, this Zanzibari favourite of chicken, potatoes, and sometimes vegetables simmered in a mixture of toasted coconut milk powder, ginger, chile, and subtle warm spices like cloves, cinnamon, and cumin is great with subtly sweet Date Chapati.

ABOUT THE CHEF
Gaspare Greco is the Executive Chef of Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdhar Resort and has been at the helm of the resort’s restaurants and lounges since February 2017. In his current role he ensures the highest level of service at all of the resort’s dining options. Menus cater to all tastes, from Omani cuisine to South East Asian Cuisine and traditional English afternoon tea.
An industry veteran, Gaspare previously held the role of Executive Chef for Anantara Kihavah Resort and Villas in the Maldives, where he oversaw the operations of five dining outlets and two bars, spanning from poolside to fine dining. He also oversaw the pre-opening for Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara where he created the F&B concepts and designed the menus.
During his tenure he received the prestigious Minor 2014 Award for Excellence for Best Culinary, beating off competition from 135 Minor Hotels and Resorts. With a career spanning over 25 years, Gaspare has travelled the world, heading up kitchens in luxury hotels in Beirut, Bahrain, Dubai, West Indies, Bahamas and Canada. He was featured in the BBC’s World Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby in 2018.
Gaspare, a Canadian national, has a financial background and holds both a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Diploma in Hotel Management from Centennial College in Toronto. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Hotel/Motel Administration Management from Centennial College School of Business.