Saturday, January 5, 2013

Keralan Duck Curry

According to Food & Wine, duck is a staple in the backwaters of Kerala.  Those backwaters are a region of the Indian State that are cut by intricate canals and dotted by lakes, which draw the attention of ducks.  I found a recipe for Keralan Duck Curry at Food & Wine, which was contributed by Aniamma Phillip, who uses a whole duck for the dish.  The recipe was modified for the use of duck breasts and it just so happens that the local grocery store has been carrying duck breasts lately.  So, it seemed natural that I should make this dish.

The recipe also calls for the use of fresh or frozen curry leaves, which the grocery store did not carry.  I was only making 1/3 of the recipe, which would require two curry leaves.  While I could have made a second stop to pick up two leaves, I was very hungry and decided that I would make the recipe without the leaves.  However, I did include the leaves in the recipe and when I make this dish for guests, I will use curry leaves.

And, I know that I will make this dish for guests because I really like this recipe.  It provides just the right amount of spice and heat in a curry sauce that coats and clings to the duck breasts.  This is important because it ensures that practically every bite of the duck includes the delicious flavors of turmeric, cardamom, chiles and ginger.   

Recipe by Aniamma Philip and 
available at Food & Wine
Serves 6

6 skinless boneless Peking Duck breast halves
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
Seeds from 6 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
6 fresh curry leaves 
6 garlic cloves, smashed
4 long, hot green chiles, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
One 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 14 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup water

1.  Prepare the duck breasts.   In a small bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and rub over the duck breasts.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2.  Prepare the spice mix.  Meanwhile, in a spice grinder, grind the cardamom seeds, cloves and peppercorns to a powder.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric.

3.  Begin preparing the curry.   In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil.  Add the duck breasts and cook over high heat until browned, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer the breasts to a large plate.  In the same skillet, cook the curry leaves over moderate heat for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic, chiles and ginger.  Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the spice powder and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Return the duck to the skillet along with any accumulated juices, cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, turning the breasts a few times.  Return the duck breasts to the plate. 

4.  Continue cooking the curry. Open the coconut milk and spoon 1/4 cup of the thickened milk from the top and set aside.  Put the remaining coconut milk in a bowl and stir in the water.  Add the thinned coconut coconut milk to the skillet and simmer over moderately high heat for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to moderate.  Add the fried potato slices and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the duck breasts and simmer for 8 minutes, turning once.  Stir in the thickened coconut milk and simmer over low heat for 3 minutes.  Season with salt. Transfer the duck breasts to plates and spoon the potatoes and sauce around the duck and serve.

Just a note about the coconut milk.  Do not shake the can of coconut milk before opening to make sure that the thickened milk stays on top.  If cooking with homogenized coconut milk, add the entire can plus 1/2 cup of water.


Food & Wine suggests that an oaky red would overpower the complex flavors of the dish.  For that reason, the suggestion is a light bodied, berry-rich wine such as a California or Oregon Pinot Noir.  I decided upon a Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, which is very berry-rich with smooth tannins, making it a good wine to go with this dish.  


1 comment:

Bali tour said...

Look amazing :)
i would like to try it :D

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