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Shared by Vivian Wecselman-Fishman

Ají de Gallina (Peruvian Chicken Curry)

Yield: 4 servingsTime: 1 H 30 min

Shared by Vivian Wecselman-Fishman

Ají de Gallina served with eggs, potatoes, rice and olives on a white dinner plate.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.

Ají de Gallina (Peruvian Chicken Curry)

Yield: 4 servingsTime: 1 H 30 min

Family Journey

Bucharest, RomaniaTel AvivLima, Peru
MontrealScarsdale, NY

The creamy sauce in this Peruvian classic has roots in Arab cooking that came with Spanish colonizers when they conquered the Inca Empire in the 16th century. In South America, cooks added aji amarillo, a local chile, to it, giving it its signature yellow hue and heat. When Vivian Wecselman-Fishman was growing up in Lima, the dish was served in her home for Shabbat.   

Serve it with white rice to soak up the sauce, along with her tacu-tacu (Peruvian lima bean cake) and pastel de choclo (South American corn and beef casserole) and read more about her family in “Shabbat Dinner by Way of Romania and Peru.”

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt, separated
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 white potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon ají amarillo
  • 6 saltine crackers
  • 8 whole pecans 
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 pitted black olives
  • Parsley for garnishing
Main CoursesMeat South and Central America

Preparation

  • Step 1

    In a large pot, cover the chicken breasts with 5 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring the water up to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Once the chicken breasts are cooked through, set them aside to cool. Shred the cooled chicken and set it aside. Strain the broth and set aside.

  • Step 2

    Prepare the potatoes: Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover water. Add ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Remove the potatoes from the pot and set aside to cool. Once cooled, slice them into 3/4 inch thick coins.

  • Step 3

    Prepare the eggs: Place the eggs in a small pot and cover them with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and then cook for 10-12 minutes depending on how soft you want the yolks. Immediately place them into an ice bath and set aside to cool. Once cooled, peel and quarter the eggs.

  • Step 4

    Make the curry sauce: In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil over a medium flame. Place the onion and garlic into the skillet and saute until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, the turmeric and aji amarillo. Stir for a few minutes then set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. Transfer the cooled onion mixture into a food processor with the crackers, pecans, and two cups of chicken broth. Blend until the mixture is smooth and thick.

  • Step 5

    Assemble the curry: Return the curry sauce to the large skillet and add the shredded chicken and coconut milk. Simmer until the flavors meld and curry thickens. If the sauce becomes too thick, add more chicken broth until it is to your liking.

  • Step 6

    Serve the chicken curry over white rice. Accompany with the boiled potatoes, pitted olives, and egg.

  • Step 7

    Garnish with parsley.