This is one of those recipes where it's easy to make, there are a few "shortcuts" and the end result is delicious. But before we get to the recipe, let me just take a moment to talk about the mathematical wonder that is a Romanesco broccoli (technically it's a cauliflower and not a broccoli). But those damn fractals, they get me every single time! (for some reason they remind me of pine forests on a globe)
Now let's get back to this curry, this is definitely a very different type of Indian curry that I've shared with you. The base of the curry is made with walnuts and then seasoned with a melange of spices to create a rich and creamy sauce. Arkhot (walnuts in Hindi) curry is a rather easy dish to prepare, I use a few shortcuts here because it makes life easy and when you're short on time, you can use a rotisserie chicken like I did. Since rotisserie chicken is precooked you don't need to cook it for too long in the walnut curry base which is helpful because ground nut pastes can burn quickly so stir it carefully and often.
I realize that it might be hard for some of you to find a Romanesco but you can substitute the same amount of cauliflower or broccoli florets in the recipe. I decided to boil the Romanesco because I wanted a tender texture to go with the soft chicken otherwise I felt it might be too complex. If you're vegetarian you can skip the chicken and chicken stock (use vegetable stock) and add a couple of chopped carrots and peas as the meat replacement.
I ended up serving this with some left over walnut bread that I picked up from the Tartine bakery but if you want to keep the dinner Indian themed, serve it hot with Indian rotis, naan or plain rice.
walnut (arkhot) Curry with romanesco and chicken
yields: 4-6 servings
2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
1 lb romanesco, cut the florets
1 lb rotisserie chicken
2 cups (4 7/8 ounces) chopped raw walnuts
4 cups low sodium chicken (vegetable) stock
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch root of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 green Thai chili peppers (use one if you prefer it less hot, you can also leave the seeds out)
4 black peppercorns
1/2 " piece cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons walnuts toasted for garnish (optional)
1. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to a large pot of water to boil. Add the romanesco florets to the water and boil for about 8-10 minutes until tender. Test with the tip a knife to make sure the florets are tender but not overcooked. Remove the florets and drain the excess liquid. Keep aside.
2. Separate and shred the meat from the rotisserie chicken, discard the skin. Keep aside.
3. In a food processor, add the 2 cups of walnuts, 2 cups of the chicken stock, garlic, ginger, onion, cumin, chili, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon. Pulse until you get a fine and smooth paste. You might need to add more stock to keep things moving in the blender.
3. Add the vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet and heat on a medium-low flame. Add the ground walnut paste and cook for about 1 minute with constant stirring. Add the remaining chicken stock and remaining salt and stir together. Bring the contents to a boil and constantly stir the contents of the pan as the walnut paste can burn easily. Immediately reduce the flame to a gentle simmer, fold in the chicken and romanesco florets, cook for one minute. Remove from flame and garnish with toasted walnuts and serve immediately.
Note: You can adjust the consistency of the curry to suit your preference by adding a little more stock. Don't make it too thin or it will be very runny.