Nepalese Chicken Tarkari with Jasmine Rice
Overall Rating: 8/10
I just walked past the kitchen and got another strong whiff of the curry, ginger, and clove still lingering in the air. This recipe delivers moist chicken on a bed of tomato-based tarkari sauce with a side of fluffy and aromatic jasmine rice.
Over our romantic dinner for two, my husband and I noted that one of our favorite things about the Blue Apron meal service is that it forces us out of our normal food habits. Generally, our meals are quite bland – grilled chicken, salads, chili, lots of grilled veggies, and paleo-only carb loading. I never would have thought of cooking Nepalese chicken tarkari for dinner because a) I consistently gravitate towards my same regimen of tried and true bland meals, b) I love exotic foods but always reserve them for nights out to eat because I’m too afraid to branch out, and c) I don’t have a spice cabinet stocked with the necessary ingredients. This meal broke us away from our typical boring weeknight grub and made our taste buds dance. From the fragrant garlic-infused jasmine rice, to the lingering spice of the curry, to the subtle sweetness of the cinnamon and cloves, to the bite of the minced ginger, this recipe was full of complex but complementary flavors. The generous use of spices really made the otherwise ho-hum ingredients pop to life. We will definitely be making this again, as we start incorporating more international flair into our home cooking.
My biggest question on this was the nutritional value of the jasmine rice. Normally our diet, which I’ve dubbed Paleo+, only allows us to eat brown rices and grains that are as close to their original source as possible. (On Paleo+, I also allow myself to eat dark chocolate because I just don’t think I can make it through life without it.) A Thailand native, jasmine rice, like regular rice, comes in both white and brown varieties. This recipe uses 3/4 cup of uncooked white jasmine rice, which equates to about 2 1/4 cups of cooked rice. A typical serving is 1/4 cup uncooked, so each person gets 1.5 times the normal serving. Here’s the nutritional rundown on brown versus white jasmine based on 1 cup of cooked rice:
As you can see, both white and brown jasmine are an excellent source of carbohydrates, which, though they get poo-pooed a lot by current diet trends, are actually an essential energy source for your body. According to experts, carbohydrates should comprise 45-65% of your daily caloric intake. As you may have suspected, the brown jasmine has higher levels of nutrients than the white variety, including B vitamins niacin, thiamin, and B-6, essential minerals magnesium and phosphorus, and everyone’s favorite regulator – fiber. Replacing the white rice with the brown would have slightly boosted the nutritional value of this meal cup per cup, but generally speaking, rice is a just a tasty calorie monger.
Everything else in this dish is incredibly healthy. The 2 oz. of spinach dished up in each serving contains staggering amounts of your daily dose of nutrients: 346% of the recommended Vitamin K, 118% of Vitamin A, 20% of folate, 12% of iron, 10% of Vitamin C, and 8% of calcium. One 6 oz. serving of chicken has 39 grams of protein to keep you satiated with long-burning energy. Overall, I’d rate this meal as fairly healthy, though wishing they had at least swapped the white rice for the brown.
- Spinach – so fresh and so green, green
- Chives – crispy and perky
- Ginger – I don’t think the baggie was completely sealed but still seemed a-okay
- Garlic – This should be the easiest ingredient to get right. First, I noticed it was turning purple, which in doing research I discovered may indicate that it was harvested prematurely, but I couldn’t find a definitive answer to this. Harvesting too early diminishes the shelf-life of garlic, which could explain why two of the cloves had to be tossed. As you can see, one had big brown spots and the other had started turning to mush. Fortunately, I keep garlic on hand, so I should have enough for my other recipes this week.
Ease of Prep
I lined up my ingredients and sprinted out of the gate at 5:21 p.m. I was STARVING after a 5 mile run around town, so I wanted some food asap. Mincing garlic is the bane of my existence, and it took me a solid 20 minutes to accomplish step 1. I think I need to buy a garlic press or learn how to mince more efficiently. I threw the rice on, cooked and drained the spinach, and had the chicken sizzling away by 6:12. It took a bit to cook because it was still slightly frozen when I threw it in the pan. At 6:38 p.m. my husband snapped a picture of the final product. Yikes, an hour and 17 minutes to prep a meal that should have taken 45 minutes tops according to the directions. No bueno.