How do you make it through winter? We often joke around that in Canada, one of our unifying characteristics is our ability to ‘survive’ the cold, to ‘make it’ through until the spring thaw. After the holidays are over, that majestic snow and cold weather can start feeling like a burden, forces that we have to endure – whether it’s trudging through the snow to go to the corner store because you really can’t survive off mac n’ cheese any longer, dealing with the grumpy and wet people on public transit, or having to shovel your driveway 3 times in one afternoon because it just won’t stop.
One way I’ve opened my mind up to winter is through taking on snowboarding, something I took a major likening to when I was 13, and haven’t let go of. But not everyone likes winter sports, and there’s a lot of privilege that comes along with having access to things like that. So I’d like to propose an idea that I think can help us all through winter. The concept comes from Denmark (a country I’m super excited to get to visit this summer!) and its called hygge. According to the Danes, “hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Wearing warm socks, drinking hot chocolate, knitting and watching Netflix – that’s hygge. Hosting friends for some mulled wine and treats – thats hygge. Reading a great book under a cozy blanket -that’s hygge. In other words, hygge is about embracing coziness.
I always found it ironic that in the time of the year where most need to be cozy, everyone is going on cleanses, drinking cold juice and eating raw salads. In the interest of embracing hygge, I think we should all be eating more cozy foods – foods cooked in big pots, with lots of warming spices. The kinds of food that warms you from the inside out. And so here is one of my most cozy dishes, my weeknight chicken curry, which I have been known to make every other week in the winter season. So put on some slippers, grab a bowl of this curry and someone to share it with. This is what winter is about.
Weeknight Chicken Curry
Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers!
Notes: You may notice that the final product photographed does not contain the beautiful purple carrots pictured in the first photo. That’s because the first time I planned on blogging this dish, those beautiful purple carrots dyed the entire thing a terrible, unappetizing colour! So pro tip: leave the funky coloured veg out in this one (unless you like purple/brown food).
It might seem weird to add apple, but it allows you to add some sweetness without having to add sugar to your curry. Also, I highly recommend investing in a nice curry powder for something like this. We really like this locally produced one.
You can easily make this vegan by leaving out the chicken and adding a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas at the same time you add the peas, or by using tofu in place of chicken.
- 1 14 ounce can of coconut milk
- 2 chicken breasts, chopped into cubes (or precooked leftover chicken)
- 4 cups of vegetables of your choosing chopped into pieces/florets – I used broccoli, carrots, and celery root but cauliflower, squash, and potatoes are also great.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 apple, chopped (in a pinch I’ve also used pear)
- 3 large garlic cloves, pressed/finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1.5 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 4 chopped roma tomatoes – either fresh of from a can (I usually use from a can, without the juices)
- ½ cup frozen peas
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh cilantro for topping (optional)
- Prep all your components: chop the vegetables, set aside. Chop the onion and apple and set aside together. Make the curry paste: combine the curry powder, garam masala, grated ginger, and garlic in a small bowl, add a tablespoon or 2 of water to make a paste.
- Cook the chicken: preheat 1 tablespoon of oil in a big pot/dutch oven over medium high heat. Cook the chicken in two batches to avoid overcrowding. With a spoon, remove the chicken from the pot once cooked and put on a side plate
- Add 1 more tablespoon of oil to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Add chopped onions and apple, sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring until onions are soft (around 5-7 minutes)
- Once onions are cooked, add the paste, cook for about 30 seconds- 1 minute until spices are fragrant.
- Add the vegetables and sautee in the spice mixture for about 30 seconds. Then add the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, and the chicken.
- Season with salt and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer with the lid off for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. At the 15 minute mark, stir in the frozen peas.
- Check for salt, and add more if needed. Serve with rice and fresh cilantro if you have.