One of my more memorable meals took place at a small Indonesian restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, quite a few years ago. The restaurant, run by a husband & wife (Dutch and Indonesian, respectively), was hidden in a small shopping area in the northeast part of the city, close to where I was living. I’d eaten there quite a few times, but on this particular occasion, a friend and I decided to celebrate, so we made advance reservations for the rijsttafel, a classic meal with about a zillion dishes. This was quite an occasion for the restaurant, too, since few customers indulged in this treat, so we were definitely an item of curiosity.
Today, many years later, I can’t remember everything we tasted, but the experience and the sense of flavor remain. When I prepared my selection for this week’s My Kitchen, My World, one bite took me back in years to that special meal. At some point over the years, the restaurant closed and something ordinary took its place, but its legacy continues -- I’ve always had a preference for Indonesian foods. Someday maybe I’ll even experience another rijsttafel.
Thanks to Michelle for choosing Indonesia and to Susan for a great idea.
(Sorry the photos aren't very appetizing -- it really was delicious!)
Indonesian Coconut Rice with Chicken and Zucchini
(Food & Wine, January 1997)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 8 chicken thighs (I used boneless)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, cut into thin slices
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
- 1 2/3 cups unsweetened coconut milk (one 13-ounce can) (Trader Joe's)
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro (optional) (or flat-leaf parsley)
- In a large deep frying pan or Dutch oven, heat the cooking oil over moderately high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Put the chicken in the pan and brown well on both sides, about 8 minutes in all. Remove. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Reduce the heat to moderately low.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the coriander, cumin, rice, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Stir in the coconut milk and the water. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring the rice two or three times, until the rice and chicken are almost done, about 20 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, cover, and cook until done, about 7 minutes longer. Stir the lemon juice and cilantro into the rice.