Thursday, January 20, 2011

Satisfying the "less meatarian" in our house

My 4 year old Charlotte decided to become a "less meatarian" long before Mark Bittman coined the phrase and it became all the rage.
For whatever reason, she just does not much like meat.

Now, as much as I am a fan of minimizing our household consumption of meat for all the great reasons described so eloquently in Food Matters by Mark Bittman, there are times when meat is on the menu in this house. Furthermore our house rule is we all eat the same food. Not that this doesn't cause issue at times; only yesterday we debuted a new fancy behavior chart to address eating the food put before them without a fuss. We're trying...
So Mark Bittman was talking to me (through his book, you understand), and it was time to marry my chicken thighs with some vegetables. The trick was to disguise the chicken in the dish with lots of other flavors and textures. Enter cauliflower, ginger, curry and coconut milk.... Mmmmmm. I chose to try Curried Chickpeas and Cauliflower with Chicken, p387 in Food Matters the Cookbook.

I pretty much made Mr. Bittmans recipe by the book, except my chicken thighs were not boned or skinned so I opted to skin them and cook them bone in, then shred after cooking. All good. Otherwise I stuck fairly closely to the recipe.

And the moment of truth; I presented it to my 4 year old, asked for a verdict on a bite of chicken and it was pronounced "YUM!". Score! Of course I had to play the cool Mum (not easy for me, sadly), and not act too excited at the chicken going down the gullet. I do need to add that I totally agree with her; this is a seriously tasty recipe.

Anyway, here goes:

Curried Chickpeas and Cauliflower with Chicken (my way)


2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped.
2 cups of cooked chickpeas (rinse them to reduce the sodium content)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup coconut milk (I used light, still delish)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 small cauliflower cored and cut into small florets
1 or 2 small dried hot red chilies (I did not have so used a pinch of red pepper flakes)
1/2 cup cilantro (again I did not have)


  1. Preheat a large dutch oven or deep skillet with a tablespoon or so of oil and add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Depending on the type of chicken you are using, cook on medium high until the chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add the ginger and onions and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Remove everything from the pan and add another tablespoon of oil.
  4. Add chickpeas to the pan with more pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes, shaking now and again until the chickpeas are lightly browned.
  5. Stir in the curry powder, give it a minute or so on the heat then remove from the pan.
  6. Place the chicken broth, coconut milk, cauliflower, chicken, chile flakes in the hot pan and heat until it gently bubbles.
  7. Cook until the cauliflower is tender and sauce is thick; approx 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the chicken and shred it off the bone.
  9. Add the chicken and chickpeas back into the pan. Stir and serve with wholegrain flatbread, pitas or naan bread.


  1. Looks yum. Will be making tonight in the hope that a 13 year old vehement enemy of most vegetables will be seduced by the joy of curried cauli!

  2. It was yum! Very easy to make too. Would make a fab vegetarian dish without the chicken. Will definitely be adding this one to my repertoire.

  3. Yay! You liked it! I think you should just puree some of the cauliflower in to get your 13 year old's approval!

  4. We loved this, 2 and 4 yr olds were a bit more fussy (not huge chicken eaters),but gladly ate the chick peas :)
    I cooked it a bit long so the cauliflower was mush, but didn't impact the taste and the 9 month old as usual ate his adult portion!