Curry Is Brain Food

No. Really. It is. If you eat curry based foods, you will gain 75 IQ points. You’ll also lose copious amounts of weight. Unless you need to gain weight in which you’ll gain exactly what you need. Your sex life will improve, your skin will be brighter and clearer. Your husband will start complimenting everything you do, your kids will hang on your every word and be instantly obedient and your dog will stop peeing on the carpet. You’ll also win the lottery. Oh, the miracle that is curry.

If none of that happens though, I can at least promise you that your tongue will be happy. Wait… that sounds bad. Oh well. It will! It will it will it will!!! You HAVE to believe me! *Falls on the floor and has a temper tantrum worthy of a two year old* And I know my two years olds. I have one after all.

Ok, now that I have gotten all of that out of my system, I’ll just say that curry really does make your tongue happy. And your belly. And your toes. And your… ok, I’ll stop now.

I first started using curry powder and curry paste in my cooking about ten years ago. That was when I started slowly branching out in my food tastes from the chicken and dumpling type life I had been living before then. I was a sad sad woman food wise up until that point. Well, other than the Twinkie and Ho-Ho addiction. I will always get teary eyed and remember those days fondly.

I won’t tell you that the chicken curry I make is akin to what one will find in your favorite Indian restaurant. Yes, it is slightly Americanized and yes, it is personalized into how I like it. But isn’t that what cooking is all about really? Someone makes something, tells someone else, who then makes it their way, gives it to someone else who loves it but they also change it some to fit their personal tastes and so on and so forth.

I can however tell you that everyone who has tried chicken curry that I have made has loved it. I have converted people who thought they didn’t like spicy or even spiced (as in highly flavored) foods with this curry. I make mine fairly spicy but if you prefer a milder curry, just cut down on the Thai Chili Sauce or the red pepper flakes. If you actually like it spicier, just increase the red pepper flakes or use a hot curry powder rather than a mild one. Like I said, we try foods and then make them our own. That’s what makes cooking fun.


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small package boneless skinless chicken thighs (the thighs add moisture. Just using breasts is fine but the end product may be a bit dryer.)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup Pataks  (I have only used this brand because I loved it from day one. So I can’t vouch for other ones) mild (or medium) red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (yes, along with the paste. It adds another layer of flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup Thai Chili Sauce
  • 2 cans Thai Kitchen coconut milk
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • juice and zest from one lime
  • For serving-  Basmati or Jasmine rice, Mango (or Cranberry) Chutney (will post my recipe for Mango Chutney at some point in time) and lime wedges
  1. In a large pot, brown your chicken breasts and thighs in batches. As with browning any meat, don’t overcrowd the pot or they will steam rather than brown. Put aside as you brown. When all are browned, drain off all but a little bit of the grease. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.
  2. Add your curry paste, curry powder, masala and cinnamon to the pot. When spices are used dry, some can have a bitter edge, especially true for curry. Cooking it a little before adding the rest of the ingredients  leaches the bitterness, brings out flavors and also smells amazing. Stir and cook for about three minutes.
  3. Add the chicken back to the pot along with both cans of broth, one can of coconut milk, the red pepper flakes and the chili sauce. Put your other can of coconut milk in the fridge while you cook. Trust me on this. Also add the raisins & brown sugar. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 90 minutes. Take chicken out and let cool until you can handle it without leaving blisters on your fingers. Leave pot of sauce cooking on low while the chicken cools. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and add back to pot. Open your other can of coconut milk and skim off and add to the pot only the solids, leaving behind the thin liquid. Simmer for two to three minutes; just long enough to heat the coconut milk up. Add in the lime juice and zest.
  4. Serve over Basmati rice with chutney and lime wedges.

Chili Today Hot Tamale




I remember when I was a kid there was a huge joke that went around everywhere, popular with kids and adults alike (hey, it was a more innocent time then; or at least that’s what I tell myself to cover up for the fact that we were all way too easily amused back in the day). Someone would walk up to you and say something to the effect of “hey; have you heard the weather report?” When you said no, they would reply “It’s chili today and hot tamale!”. They would then proceed to laugh hysterically and wait for you to join in. Being the sophisticated intelligent delusional child that I was, I would of course stick my nose in the air and reply with something pithy like “that’s so funny, I forgot to laugh” or the oldie but goodie that proved what a humor god you were, “last time I heard that one, I laughed so hard I fell off my dinosaur.” (No really… we did; Stegosaurus I think.). I was so ahead of my time when it came to witty comebacks. Still am… or something.

Bur regardless of my sparkling wit or lack thereof, I have been told I make one hell of a pot of chili. So that’s what you’re getting today; my chili recipe. I haven’t even given this to my grown kids yet. Well, I suppose I have now.  There goes their inheritance. I planned this yesterday when it was rainy, cold and windy. So what happens? It’s 67 degrees out now. Go figure.

Four Bean Chili

  • This sounds like a lot of ingredients but it goes together quickly and makes one  huge pot of chili; about eight nice sized servings. It can be cut in half or doubled easily. This is a somewhat spicy chili though in its defense my kids eat it and haven’t started breathing fire yet. But if you are spice biased, feel free to omit the chopped jalapeno. Leave the Chipotle though; it adds flavor, not just heat.
  1. 3 pounds ground chuck
  2. 1 1/2 cups chopped onions (about 2 medium)
  3. 1/2 cup chopped celery
  4. 1 1/4 cups chopped mixed peppers (I use a combo of red, green, orange and yellow. You can use your favorites)
  5. 1 large jalapeno pepper, finely minced
  6. 1/4 cup minced garlic (I used the kind from a jar;  so shoot me.)
  7. 2 15.5 ounce cans kidney beans
  8. 2 15.25 ounce cans black beans
  9. 1 15.5 ounce can pinto beans
  10. 1 15.5 ounce can chili beans (I vary spice level depending on mood; today’s was “medium”)
  11. 1 14.5 ounce can chili style diced tomatoes (I use Del Monte or Hunts)
  12. 1 10 ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes with lime and cilantro or the kind with green chiles (if they don’t have that in your area, just use another can of any style diced tomatoes you like.)
  13. 1/3 to 1/2 cup chili powder (yes; half a cup)
  14. 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper powder (I use McCormicks brand)
  15. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  16. 1/4 cup Franks Red Hot hot sauce
  17. 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (you can sub 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
  18. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  19. 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  20. salt to taste ( I actually rarely use salt in it because the spices and canned products add enough salty flavor)

Garnishes- cheddar or jack cheese, red or green onions, finely chopped cilantro, sour cream.

  • Chop up your celery, onions and all the various peppers. Mix them with the ground chuck in a large (preferably heavy bottomed) pot. Over medium high heat (on my electric stove, I have it at about 7)  cook until the beef is browned and the veggies have begun to soften, stirring frequently. Drain well and put back into the pot.
  • Add the rest of your ingredients except for the vinegar and the garnishes. Mix well and put your heat on medium. I start out at about 5  (stirring frequently) until it comes to a simmer then I turn it down to 3. You need to watch it carefully and stir often or it will stick to the bottom of your pot.
  • See how easy this was so far? Now just bring it up to to a simmer, turn your heat down to medium low and let it cook. It can be eaten in about an hour if you prefer your chili soupier but we like it thicker and more stew like so mine simmers for about 3 hours. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, add the vinegar, stir it thoroughly then give it a taste. If it needs more of something, add it now. Too tart? Add a touch more brown sugar. Too sweet? Add some salt and maybe some more chili powder. Too spicy? Send it to me.
  • Ladle into bowls and serve with tons of garnishes. My favorites are a lot of cheese, either green or red onions, some sour cream and a bit of cilantro. We serve this with either cornbread, tortillas or the yummy and typical saltine crackers.

Herman the cow wanted to be in the picture. He loves chili... evil cannibal cow.