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Sometimes, cooking surprises you in the nicest of ways. This low FODMAP curry is a serendipitous creation – I had a bag of zucchini in my fridge that needed using up, and a couple of plantains just about ready to eat. Also, I’d been eyeing the ‘weird leathery greens’ shelf in my local grocery store for a while now – back in Europe, I never saw collard greens, swiss chard or dandelion – and finally decided to take the plunge with collard greens. The sauce was put together using whatever I thought would go taste well… may I say, for thirty minutes of work, this curry does not disappoint! Creamy, tangy and with just a little heat, it adds a little variety to the typical meat-potato-veg low FODMAP diet. It’s good for you, too – plantains contain a solid portion of vitamins A, C and potassium, with quite a lot of vitamin B6, folate and magnesium thrown in; collard greens are bursting with calcium, iron, manganese, vitamins A, C, K and folate; swapping chicken for tofu or seitan can make it cholesterol-free; and using low fat coconut milk will keep saturated fats in check.

A note on plantains: as of today, they have not yet been tested, but since they’re a less-sweet cousin of banana, I thought they might be OK.  They do not give me any grief, but you may want to assess that for yourself before making a vat of the curry… if in doubt, swap plantains for pineapple.

Something I think I should mention – when I tried swapping lime for lemon, after I froze portions of the curry and then thawed them out for lunch, the ingredients looked like they’d fermented a little in the lemon juice. I actually loved it, the vegetables became very soft and full of flavour, but just in case this happens every time, be sure it won’t bother you – or stick to lime.

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Plantain and Collard Green Curry with Coconut-Lime Sauce

(Yield: 8-12 portions, preparation: 30 minutes, total time: 1 hour, difficulty: easy)

  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil (preferably not strong-flavoured)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon whole fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 large chicken breasts (3 if you like a lot of meat) OR 3-4 cups seitan or tofu
  • 3 ripe plantains
  • 5 small crookneck squash or 3 medium zucchini
  • 3-4 spring onions, green parts only
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • juice from 2 large limes (or two small lemons)
  • 1 can coconut milk (14 fl oz or 400 ml), full fat or light
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Wash the chicken and cut into 1-inch cubes, or a little smaller if you prefer. Chop the squash into fairly small pieces – maybe 1/2 by 1/2 by 1/4 inch. Peel the plantains: cut off the ends, make length-wise incisions in the skin every 1/2 inch around the whole fruit and then peel off the skin in long strips. This will be very easy if the plantain is ripe (yellow and balck, with no green spots) – the photo below shows a plantain mid-way through the peeling process, you can see that the leathery skin comes off in large stripes.  If all you can find is unripe fruit, you could leave it on the counter for a few days to let it mature. Alternatively, here’s a video on how to peel green plantains. Finally, chop the green onions and you’re set to go!

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Pull out your wok and heat up the oil. Typically, I do not use olive oil in cooking as it has a very strong flavour. Unless, of course, the flavour is the point of the dish, like in bruschetta. Here, I used sunflower oil. Once it’s hot, add the spices and let them sizzle for a minute or so, stir them constantly to make sure they don’t burn. Add the chicken (or seitan/tofu) and fry it until the pieces start to brown – be certain they’re all cooked through! At that point, add the vegetables, stir well, cover the wok and lower the heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring two or three times. Once the veggies look a little wilted, add the lime juice, coconut milk and brown sugar. Try to not cut off your fingers while scooping the coconut milk out of the can, like I almost did. To my defense, I’d been storing the milk in the fridge and it solidified (I used full fat), so it was hard to get out. In general, I cook with full fat coconut milk but for a low fat diet, you can safely use the light variety. I tried it and the dish tasted more or less the same, it was just a little more runny. Once all ingredients (sans your fingers and blood) are in the wok, leave the dish uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, stirring maybe every two minutes. Done.

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That was easy, right? Serve with rice, or whatever other starch you think may work. Or for a low carb version, serve in baked acorn squash halves. I typically pre-cook rice (2 cups per the amount posted here) while making the curry and mix it in before freezing the dish for take-along lunches. This way it’s all ready to throw in my bag at 7 am when I leave for work, no need to remember to cook anything else the night before. When I feel particularly naughty, I put cheese on top.

If you’re looking for even more variety, use pineapple instead of plantains, lemon juice instead of lime and peanuts instead of chicken. That was my prototype version, not too bad at all…

Disclaimer – as always: I am a complete wuss when it comes to chilli and this dish is probably toddler-appropriate. Add extra heat if you’re on the fiery side.

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