The years Sarah Brischle lived in Africa inspired her to cook healthy, colorful dishes using a variety of spices and fresh ingredients. Today, as children’s ministry director at Resurrection Downtown, Sarah lives in a River Market loft and often shops at the City Market farmers market.
Q: What took you to Africa?
A: I grew up in Illinois and went to college to become a teacher. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach in Africa, and while there I lived one year in Uganda and two years in Kenya.
In Kenya I taught first grade at a missionary boarding school and coached soccer, volleyball and basketball for older students. The school had a very strong academic program and served grades K-12. For older students, it was a boarding school. The younger students lived nearby, and their families often worked for the school or at a nearby hospital.
It was a great experience. The area around the town in Kenya in which I lived, Kijabe, which means place of the wind, was mountainous and beautiful, and it stretched into a valley below that was a natural preserve with lots of animals. The valley would remind you of the movie “Lion King.”
Q: How did your time in Africa influence your cooking?
A: I became familiar with lots of spices and enjoyed the culture. The school had a cookbook filled with favorite recipes that I now treasure and use often.
I learned a lot about the food and cooking the African dishes from other missionaries and from a local housekeeper. I would often cook and invite students, especially those from the teams I coached, to come for dinner.
Q: Do you enjoy cooking?
A: I do, and it is my “de-stressor.” I especially enjoy cooking one-pot dishes, such as this curry, chili or chicken noodle soup. I cook larger batches so there is plenty, and I can invite friends over to enjoy a meal with me. My fiancé, Jordan Elliott, enjoys baking and makes great bread.
Q: Tell us about your African chicken curry.
A: It is easy to prepare and easy to double so it makes plenty to share. You can cook it on the stove or in a slow cooker.
My fiancé calls me the “master spicer” as I enjoy seasoning the dish and tweaking the seasonings just how I like them. Once you make the curry you will know if you enjoy the flavor with more spices or not.
The Greek yogurt you dollop on top of the curry balances the flavor, so if the dish seems a little spicy for you, add another dollop of yogurt and it will calm the heat.
I am gluten-free and dairy-free and this curry is a gluten-free recipe. While the original recipe listed dairy milk, it is easy to substitute coconut milk for the dairy milk and the dish tastes better with the coconut milk.
I love that you can add the toppings you enjoy. Fresh chopped bananas, for example, may not sound like something you have eaten with spicy chicken and rice before, but it is wonderful.
Many people might be familiar with a taco bar, where bowls of condiments are set out and you can choose the ones you want. That is very much like curry, so you can choose chopped tomatoes, peanuts, chopped avocado or any of the many other toppings you wish.
It is fun to serve and may be different from what people are familiar with. Some may think it sounds crazy, but I always say, just try it. They love it once they take a bite.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published 11 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com
African Chicken Curry
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon each: ground oregano, paprika, ground sage, poultry seasoning, dried parsley flakes, celery salt and garlic powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Hot, cooked rice
Optional toppings: chopped tomatoes, chopped peppers of any color, peanuts, cashews, raisins, cranberries, flaked coconut, chopped fruit such as pineapple, banana, apple or mango, chopped avocado, plain Green yogurt
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender. Stir in the flour, blending well. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice, rice and toppings and cook until it is hot and thickened, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice just before serving.
Serve over the rice. Top as desired
Tips: The recipe can be doubled.
For a spicier dish, double the amount of each spice in the recipe. For added flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon, or to taste of ground turmeric, red pepper flakes, ground cumin, cayenne, chili powder, Italian seasoning, allspice, ground cloves or ground ginger.
If desired, use your slow cooker. Just place all ingredients except the lemon juice, rice and toppings in the slow cooker. No need to sauté the onion first. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours. Stir in the lemon juice and add additional seasonings, as desired.