Spicy Cashew Coconut Chicken

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I’m just going to say it straight up: this is definitely my favorite Sri Lankan recipe so far and quite possibly my favorite recipe this month.  Chicken gets marinated in a spicy coconut cashew paste, browned on the stove, and then gets finished off by a simmer in a coconut milk.

It’s really the perfect dish to serve at a dinner party: exotic enough to impress your foodie friends, but familiar enough to appeal to non-adventurous eaters and kids. It’s also a perfect match for that Sri Lankan rice  that I posted a couple days ago.

Spicy Cashew Coconut Chicken

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup roasted cashews
* 1/4 cup toasted, unsweetened, dried coconut
* 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
* 1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
* 2 Tablespoons water
* 1 teaspoon cayenne
* 2 teaspoons ground fennel
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
* 1 Serrano pepper, quartered lengthwise
* 1/2 cinnamon stick
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
* 2 pounds boneless chicken (I used thighs)
* 2 Tablespoons oil
* 1 can (~15 ounces) coconut milk
* Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

To prepare the marinade, grind the cashews, coconut, onion, tomatoes and water in a blender or food processor until it becomes a thick, gritty paste. Remove to a large bowl and add the cayenne, fennel, cumin, fenugreek, Serrano pepper, cinnamon stick and fresh ginger and stir to combine. Add the chicken and coat each piece well. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for an hour.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown each side, about 5-6 minutes each side. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has mostly evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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