I knoowwwwww it’s summer and it’s already hot enough outside, but this one’s SO worth switching on the stove for, I promise.
Recently I was talking to a new friend about what it was like when my family and I lived in the Middle East. Being a major foodie now, some of our first meals in Bahrain come to mind right away.
I remember during one of our early weeks there, my mum, dad, sister and I sat down for dinner in the house we were temporarily living in until ours was ready. I was 13 and my sister had just turned 10. My mum always made us drink a glass of milk with dinner back when we lived in Canada, and since it was something we’d always done growing up, we weren’t about to refuse. She went to the fridge, grabbed the jug and poured it into our glasses.
As you might expect, the brands available to us there were different to what we have here in Canada. While it was very possible to find some familiar products (all more expensive due to import costs), most grocery store items were typically from local companies. The milk in our fridge had an Arabic label with English translation, and this was the case for most of the other foods in our fridge too.
Back to that dinner. A combination of jetlag, exhaustion, missing our friends and culture shock meant my sister and I weren’t in the most experimental headspaces at this particular moment. My dad had gone on a mini rant at us for sleeping most of the day while he was at work, saying we’d never adjust to the time difference if we didn’t stay awake. At the same time, my mum was running out of things for us to do and was probably just as frustrated and tired. Our internet wasn’t working (#firstworldproblems), and the majority of our belongings hadn’t arrived yet from overseas. While our backyard pool provided some entertainment for a while, we’d already been for plenty of swims that morning. We looked forward to our first day at our new school which was about a week away, but in that moment, I think we both just longed for a bit of familiarity.
My sister and I have never been picky eaters. We were raised to eat what was on our plates, and I can’t remember what the rest of the meal that night consisted of, but something about it just wasn’t right for either of us. I’d spent about 20 minutes shuffling the bites of food around my plate with my fork, and eventually complained that the milk didn’t taste right. My dad’s response of “agh just drink it!” was the straw the broke the camel’s back. I burst into tears, ran to my temporary bedroom and refused to come back.
Luckily, things improved quickly. We figured out where to find ‘the good kind’ of milk (which still tasted kinda weird so we abolished the 1 glass with every dinner rule – probably a good thing for all of us health-wise.) We found the grocery stores where the other expats shopped, and once we started going to school and establishing a routine, our sleep schedules became much more regular. Settling into our new house once it was ready and arranging our belongings from Canada made the place feel more like home and less like a bare concrete villa a million miles away from our Canadian friends.
It’s very common for expat families in Bahrain to hire house help from countries like India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and it didn’t take us long to do the same. Through recommendations of friends, we found 2 fantastic women to help my mum (who soon began working) with cleaning and cooking. This is when my first exposure to Indian and Thai curries happened. I quickly fell in love with the flavours of freshly ground spices and vibrant colours. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne – you name it, these ladies knew how to combine spices and other fresh ingredients to create the most delicious curries.
These days, I make a curry for myself (with plenty of leftover portions) at least once every two weeks. These are great recipes for making in big batches because they freeze so well, and the spices in my go-to curry powder recipe help to amp up the anti-inflammatory factor.
This Coconut Mango Chicken Curry is one I made recently for myself and some friends, and they couldn’t stop raving about the creamy, silkiness of the sauce. We enjoyed it over cauliflower rice as a lighter, more summery base (who really wants to wait for a pot of rice to boil on a weeknight?), and found that the cauliflower was perfect for soaking up every last bit of sauce in our bowls. Best of all, it was ready in about 30 minutes and can be made in a single pan. We’ve all got better things to do than washing up, right? Right.Print
Sweet and savoury, coconutty and full of vibrant Indian-inspired flavour, this Coconut Mango Chicken Curry is a perfect make-ahead meal you’ll want to incorporate in your weekly meal prep plan.
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup diced white onion
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 454g raw boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-size chunks
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp yellow curry powder
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 2 cups carrots, sliced into coins
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 ¼ cups light coconut milk
- ¾ cup diced fresh mango
- 1 tbsp finely shredded basil
- 3 tbsp torn cilantro
- to serve: 4 cups cauliflower rice, 2 tbsp chopped toasted cashews, lime wedges, torn cilantro and sprouts
- Melt the coconut oil in a large pan for 1 minute on high heat. Add the garlic, white onion and chicken. Stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken looks almost fully cooked. Add a few tablespoons of coconut milk as you do this to prevent the pan from getting dry.
- Next, add the remaining spices, carrots and bell pepper pieces. Stir fry for a minute to coat in spices, then pour in the remaining coconut milk. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium low for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small pan, dry toast the cashews if not already done. (This is optional – it will help to enhance their flavour.) Simply heat up the pan and toss the cashews in, shaking them around every minute or so until they start to become fragrant and a bit golden. Watch them closely – this happens fast!
- Remove the lid from the curry. Stir in the mango, basil and cilantro. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes. Switch off the heat and let the curry cool a little bit before serving.
- Pour 1 cup of cauliflower rice in each bowl, then evenly distribute the curry on top of each. Garnish with toasted cashews, lime wedges, torn cilantro and sprouts.
This recipe can easily be adapted for whatever veggies you have on hand, and ones on the firmer side will work best. Zucchini, sweet potato, peas, green beans would all be great choices.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: dinner, lunch, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, low sugar, high protein
- Cuisine: Indian
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
- Calories: 400
- Sugar: 13g
- Sodium: 135mg
- Fat: 20g
- Saturated Fat: 14g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 31g
- Fiber: 9g
- Protein: 29g
- Cholesterol: 52mg
So tell me… have you ever moved somewhere and experienced major culture shock? Where was it, and what were the things that felt so different and foreign to you?