Chicken and kea for tea

What’s cooking?

Chicken simmered in coconut cream with coriander, a treat to make away from home.

There’s a keen-eyed kea outside the window.  Its begging is professional, it scampers about on the balcony railing and cocks its head at me as I peel spuds and chop onion.

We are in a comfy little cabin in Arthur’s Pass and the first to greet us at the carpark was a coven of keas.  The DoC man and signs everywhere warn against feeding the creatures, so I try to ignore the birds and concentrate on preparing dinner.

Cooking away from home is never easy, and it is even harder with a hungry avian audience.  As I chop, a gentle rain – almost snow – begins to fall.  Very soon Barry the kea is sodden, bedraggled and demanding to be let in to thaw out by the heater.

Emotional blackmail, sadly, failing

It cannot be.  The DoC man would be very cross indeed.  I continue the preparations.

Over the years I’ve learned a lesson or two when it comes to cooking in a strange kitchen.  What is boils down to is this – be prepared.  Canny travellers take half the kitchen with them.  Because it’s sad to discover your temporary kitchen is outfitted from the nearby $2 shop.

I travel with my own sharp knives, sometimes a frypan and often washing up liquid.  And sadly, sometimes these are needed.

The other trick is to cook simple.  The following recipe is so easy to make a kea could do it.  Essentially, it’s a one-dish meal. It’s wonderfully warming, perfect for a chill night, and fills the room with the smell of garlic and spices frying together, mellowed out by coconut cream.

Served with a salad, it is perfection, and we ate while darkness fell over the snow-draped mountains.  Which was a bonus, because we could no longer see the begging Barry.

Chicken with coriander
500g boned and skinned chicken breast
1 onion
4 -5 cloves garlic
1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
Handful coriander, chopped
1 tin coconut milk
2 – 3 medium-sized new potatoes, cubed
Half a packet ribbon noodles

  • Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Peel and chop onion and garlic.
  • Heat half the oil in skillet and add the spices.  Stir and reduce heat.  Add the garlic and onion and brown quickly.  Remove.
  • Add some more oil and brown the chicken in small batches.  Add the onions, coconut milk and coriander.
  • Add the potato and cook gently for about 15 minutes, or until tender.
  • Cook the noodles in salted water according to instructions, and mix in with the rest before serving.



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