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Chicken curry  on the quick

Spinach, lentils and coconut round out the flavor of this 40-minute dish

Chicken, Spinach and Lentil Coconut Curry. Illustrates ONTHEFRIDGE (category d), by Bonnie S. Benwick (c) 2013, The Washington Post. Moved Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)

Chicken, Spinach and Lentil Coconut Curry. Illustrates ONTHEFRIDGE (category d), by Bonnie S. Benwick (c) 2013, The Washington Post. Moved Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)

This dish pulls off a small feat: It’s light-tasting yet hearty, just right for a crisp fall evening. There’s lots of squeaky spinach to chew. Mashing the tender chunks of sweet potatoes as you eat gives the stew a richer texture.

Chicken, Spinach and Lentil Coconut Curry

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 pound boneless,
skinless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1∕4 cup red Indian curry paste

2∕3 cup dried red or green lentils

21∕2 cups low-fat coconut milk

2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

14 ounces washed baby spinach

1 lime

1 small jalapeno or serrano chili pepper (optional)

leaves from 6 to 8 stems cilantro

Peel the sweet potatoes, then cut the flesh into 1-inch chunks. Cut the chicken into 3∕4-inch pieces, discarding any fat.

Heat the oil in a large wok or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for no more than 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir to coat; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the meat loses its raw look.

Add the sweet potatoes and lentils, stirring to coat, then add the coconut milk and broth. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every so often. The sweet potatoes should be just tender.

Uncover; stir in the spinach in two batches. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, just until wilted. Remove the wok or Dutch oven from the heat.

Meanwhile, cut the lime in half and squeeze its juice into a small bowl.

Cut the jalapeno or serrano pepper crosswise into thin rounds, if using. Coarsely chop the cilantro.

Sprinkle the lime juice over the surface of the curry, then the pepper slices, if using, and the cilantro.

Serve warm on its own or over rice.

Makes about 8 cups (4 servings)

Adapted from
“Cook on a Shoestring: Easy, Inspiring Recipes on a Budget,” by Sophie Wright

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