Tuesday, 14 June 2016

One-pot Red Curry Chicken and Rice...and the time I graduated from university.

One-pot Red Curry Chicken and Rice

I love the Stone Soup Story. Have you heard it before? Basically;
An old weary traveller arrives in a village one evening, tired from his journey. Hungry, he asks some of the villagers to share their food, but they all turned him away. Slowly, the old man made his way to the village square and set up a single cooking pot. He took a stone from his bag and placed it in the bottom of the pot, and then he poured some water over it and brought it to a boil. The villagers, curious about what he was doing, gathered around the old man. When asked what he was doing, he replied “Oh I’m just making my famous stone soup. This magic stone I have in this pot makes the most fantastic soup! So filling and fragrant..oh it’s delicious! If only… but…oh…oh nevermind…”.
“What? What is it old man? What?” the villagers prompted.
“Well…it is a brilliant soup mind you. Absolutely brilliant simply on it’s own. Such a simple, flavourful broth the stone makes…but oh! It would be just that much better with some cabbage. But nevermind nevermind…I will be more than content with this soup the way it is”
“I have some cabbage!” a woman called form the back. “Here my dear old man. Take it for your soup.”
“Why thank you!” the traveller cried, taking the crisp leaves and adding them to his boiling pot. “Oh this will make it so much nicer! Oh how kind of you! The soup was going to be brilliant before but now it will be simply sublime! But oh…if only…oh but nevermind there is no need simply no need….”
“No no tell us please! But what, old man?”
“Well…..this soup will be wonderful. Absolutely wonderful mind you,” he replied, “but it would be just that more delicious if it had just a few onions. Just a few onions would truly make it food of the Gods! But alas…there is none to be found here so never mind. It will be simply delicious just as it is.”
And so it went, the old man would have the villagers volunteering little scraps of meat and vegetables they had in their homes to add to this magical stone soup. Very soon, the soup was indeed, a most flavourful broth made rich with all the contributions of the village. The old man then fished the stone out from the bottom of the pot and together he and the villagers feasted, for together they had produced this delicious soup and delicious things are meant to be shared.
As I look forward and see my graduation ceremony coming up next week, I find myself thinking of the Stone Soup. I think of all those villagers adding to the pot without actually meaning to, and the old man who brought them together. Most of all I think of that soup. I think about how it started out as some water with a stone in it and became so much more through the gifts of people who didn’t realize what they were doing.
In a week, I’ll be graduating from the University of St. Andrews with a 2:1 degree in behavioural biology.
I’ll try not to get too heavy handed with the metaphor here…but I think you all get where I’m going with this. Yes, my degree was a result of my hard work, but as cheesy as it sounds I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a very supportive network of friends and family. I have so many people to thank.
My parents, who worked so hard to give me the very best education they could afford.
My academic mother who has always kept tabs on my progress in university, when it would have been so easy to fade out of contact once she graduated, and has always been ready with encouragement and advice.
My godparents who did the same, and made sure I knew I was always welcome in their home when university madness got too much.
My lecturers who got me interested and passionate enough in their courses that I kept going and didn’t just quit.
My friends, who made me laugh when I needed it most.
My housemates, who made our little student dig a home.
Their families, who adopted me and made sure I knew I was just as much a part of their family as their daughters were.
My boyfriend, who has never been more than a Skype call away.
The future is looking very bright, promising and scary. Mostly scary to be honest. All the same, I’m looking forward to all the new experiences I’m going to have and all the new people I stand to meet. Here’s to celebrating the past four years and the next chapter of my life about to begin.
Here’s to new pots of Stone Soup.

One-pot Thai Red Curry Chicken and Rice
Because if you're going to be celebrating, the last thing you want to be doing is washing pots and pans

-       2 tbsp vegetable oil
-       2 tbsp of your favourite thai curry paste ( I use my own from recipe here)
-       1 chicken breast, cubed small
-       1 cup basmati rice (washed till the water runs clear)
-       1 cup light coconut milk
-       ¾ cup water
-       2 kafir lime leaves
-       1 lemongras stalk (with the ends smashed with the side of a knife)
-       ½ cup frozen peas (steamed in the microwave)
-       ¼ cup fresh coriander (chopped finely, stalks and all)
-       2 tbsp roasted cashew nuts (very roughly chopped)
-       1 tbsp deep fried shallots

1.     Heat the oil on medium heat in a large saucepan.
2.     Stir-fry the curry paste until fragrant, this should take 2-3 minutes.
3.     Add the cubed chicken and stir-fry till cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
4.     Add the washed and drained rice to the same pot. Scrap the bottom to make sure all the browned bits are removed from the pan.
5.     Add the coconut milk, water, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass stalk, then bring to a boil. The minute the liquid starts to boil, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and reduce the heat to as low as you can get it.
6.     Leave the rice to cook. This could take up to half an hour, but start checking after 15 minutes.
7.     Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and add all the chopped coriander in one go. Fluff up the rice with a fork, mixing in the coriander in the process.
8.     Gently combine the rice, cooked chicken and cooked peas so everything is evenly distributed.
9.     Divide into two bowls and garnish with roasted cashew nuts and fried shallots.

1.  Enjoy.

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