Easy Coconut Milk and Turmeric Rice Bowl
I have an obsession with being authentic. Being genuine. True-to-form. At least when it comes to food, that is. I would plan to wear a sari-like skirt whenever my boyfriend-now-husband and I went to Indian restaurants on dates. As a teenager I would "accidentally" dump my family's staple Lipton tea down the drain and just so happen to have a pitcher of Thai iced tea ready made to accompany the green curry when it was my turn to cook. I have on several occasions turned on Israeli music and went to great lengths to ensure that the appetizer, entree and dessert were all sufficiently Middle Eastern when I had a Middle Eastern potluck. I'm sure you're the same way.
I also refuse to make a "curry" unless it's an a recipe using EITHER traditional Indian ingredients, or traditional Thai ingredients. No American mish-mashes, or blends of the two. They both have certain protocols, methods, and types of "curry". I can't mix elements of the two in the same dish and be confident. It's like mixing acrylic and oil-based paints... I was always told to pick one and go for it, but that I can't mix them. I must be decisive and consistent, that inner voice tells me.
It's probably obvious that I'm a person that needs labels and categories (...among other things). So I'm challenging myself here by touting a recipe whose national origins I cannot clearly identify and celebrate. I'm serious, it truly bothered me while pondering this post. I mean, when it comes to a mixed-origin or no-origin dish, making it once is fine. But making a big deal about it and blogging it - where is my sense of authenticity? Where has the true foodie in me gone? All the other blog posts in my head are about single-origin recipes I picked up in the Middle East, or that are based on authentic Vietnamese cuisine, etc. etc.
The only reason I'm sharing this nation-less stew with you today is because it is DELICIOUS. And the secret weapon is actually a bonus feature worth blogging about - regardless of the missing pedigree. It's kind of a loveable mutt - maybe it's got a little Middle Eastern in it, definitely some Thai. But it's for sure got a good dose of ESSENTIAL OILS, and that's what makes it near and dear to my heart. Good enough to make twice in one month... which rarely ever happens around here.
Essential Oils. Yes, that's right. You can cook with essential oils. But it's best to use a recipe to guide you at first while you're getting the hang of it, because one drop might overpower the dish and truly blow you away. (Ask my husband about his lemongrass oil-tea experiment.) But that's the beauty of oils... they're POTENT. Typically, you only need to dip a toothpick in the bottle and then swirl the toothpick in your drink/dessert/soup... the residue will be usually be more than enough to flavor it. Talk about stretching your $!
Coriander and Black Pepper oil are the secret ingredients here. I made this dish without them (or their corresponding dry spice form) the first time last winter, and thought, "Bland. Probably not gonna make that again." There was no punch of flavor, even with the garlic, shallot, and onion. I was bummed, because turmeric and coconut are SUPERFOODS that I can't get enough of, especially in these late winter months when I find myself feeling more and more unhealthy as my Vitamin D reserves run dry and my muscles feel like they turn to mush. I've got to do something productive for this body and fast! So - when I made this turmeric-touting stew again this year (forgetting I'd deemed it bland), I tasted it and thought... "Bland - again, darn it!" It was then that it dawned on me. I heard my inner culinary conscience prompting, "REACH FOR THE OILS..."
I needed something potent. Old, ground spices are usually so weak, and since it was already 8:30 pm, I didn't want to waste any more time grinding fresh ones. I needed something that I wouldn't have to wait another 20 minutes for the flavors to come out and meld with the stew, the way that dry spices would require. I just wanted it to taste amazing - and fast. Typically when I have this dilemma, I just dump inordinate amounts of garlic powder, but this time I listened to the voice and peered at my edible oils, and decided Coriander oil and Black Pepper oil would save this dish like only a hero could.
Young Living Vitality Oils
Young Living has repackaged some of their oils and named them their "Vitality" line. These are just a bunch of their oils that are perfectly safe for consumption and use for dietary supplements, and are incredible substitutes for powdered or fresh herbs or spices in the kitchen.
I've used them as supplements, for digestive relief, and in tea and drinks, but this was the first dish I've made using the oils. Wondering if I had just gotten lucky that time, I re-conducted the experiment, was just as elated with the turnout, and thus had to share it with you.
Oils contain highly concentrated amounts of the nutrients that you just cannot get from eating a couple servings of that herb or spice. Lots of people take a pill to get the "extract" of different superfoods and spices, but since I already have these oils on hand for other uses, I figured, why not eat them?
If you want to make this recipe but don't have the oils yet, you can sub the spices instead. I prefer the oils simply because I can get the potency without the muddy taste of tablespoons of the ground stuff. The oil is brighter and cleaner, in general. But - the ground spices should be delicious as well!
I like to be intentional with what I put on and in my body. And this stew fits the bill. Besides their amazing taste, the superstar flavoring agents in this stew have miraculous properties:
Turmeric. Powerful anti-inflammatory being studied for its effects on effectively reducing joint pain just as well as ibuprofen, protecting the brain from degenerative diseases, inhibiting cancer development and growth, aiding in ulcerative colitis and other GI conditions, and preventing blood clotting as effectively as aspirin. Click here for more information.
Coconut oil. Helps with metabolism, weight loss, protecting the thyroid, and promoting healthy skin and hair. We should all switch from cooking with toxin-producing vegetable oils (which are stored as fat), to protective, restorative, metabolism-boosting coconut oil! Read here.
Black Pepper oil. Incredible for circulation, promoting healthy digestion, helping with aches and pains, and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Coriander oil. From the seed of the cilantro plant, coriander is highly effective in aiding with digestion, relieving digestive discomfort, and helping maintain healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels. (Dr. Axe has lots to say about both these oils!)
Ingredients & Directions
Chopping Prep: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Servings: 2-3
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 drops YL Black Pepper oil (or 1 tsp freshly ground pepper)
- 1 drop YL Coriander oil (or 1 tsp freshly ground coriander)
- 5 mushrooms, sliced
- 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro for serving
- Lime wedges for serving
- (optional: 2-3 chicken thighs, cubed)
- 1 C jasmine rice
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- half a shallot (or another 2 cloves garlic)
- half a medium onion
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 2 C water (plus 1 1/2 C for rice)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 C chopped broccoli
- 1 C chopped carrots
- In a dutch oven or medium soup pan, melt coconut oil over medium heat and add chopped onion. Mince garlic and shallot, and add to pot. Saute for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.
- Add a couple pinches of salt, the coconut milk, and water. Bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, put jasmine rice and 1 1/2 C water in a small pot. Bring to boil, cover, turn down to simmer for 18 minutes.
- Add turmeric, broccoli and carrots to the stew. Turn down to a low simmer and add the bay leaves and essential oils and cover with lid.
- After 5 minutes, add the mushrooms and cubed chicken (if using). Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are crisp-tender. Taste and add salt if needed.
- Serve over rice, squeeze a lime wedge, and top with cilantro.
Bon Apetit! Here's to believing that good things really can exist outside of parameters.