Chicken has long been considered a reliable albeit somewhat boring choice for corporate events, weddings and other special events when budgets are tight. Yet, chicken is a versatile dish that can be customized to fit just about any theme or occasion.
To add excitement to chicken dinners requires thinking outside the box. It's as easy as borrowing from other cultures. With the multi-cultural teams at many hotels and resorts, if you ask you'll find that it's often possible to serve authentic versions of these dishes.
Butter Chicken (India)
Butter chicken is a delicious blend of chicken marinated in salt, red chili powder, tandoori masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, yogurt. The sauce is prepared with butter, cumin seeds, onion, garlic, chopped ginger, and tomato. The chicken and marinade are added to bay leaves, tomato, cardamom, that have been fried in saucepan and left to simmer.
Curry Chicken (India or Caribbean)
Curry originated in Southeast Asia (it is believed India). Buddhist monks brought curry dishes to Thailand, China and Japan. Indian immigrants introduced curry to Singapore, Malaysia, Trinidad, Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean.
Curry powder is used to create Caribbean-style curry chicken. It is often wrapped and served inside roti in Trinidad and Guyana. (In Jamaica, curry goat is also popular.)
This is a recipe for a version of curry chicken that is popular in Trinidad. The ingredients for curry chicken include chicken marinated overnight with salt, black pepper, garlic, fresh thyme, tomato, amchar masala, shado beni (a leafy herb) and curry powder. To prepare Caribbean-style curry chicken, the oil is heated and the curry powder is added to it before adding the chicken.
Jerk Chicken (Jamaica)
Jerk Chicken is becoming an increasingly popular dish all over the world. It is prepared from chicken marinated overnight with onions, scallions (Bermuda onions), scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, pimiento (allspice), salt, black pepper and jerk seasoning (the secret ingredient).
The jerk method of cooking over an open fire originated with the Taino, Jamaica's original inhabitants.
At one time, you had to go to Boston Beach near Port Antonio to get jerk pork. Eventually, it's popularity spread and this method of cooking was used for chicken, fish and, occasionally, turkey.
In 1978, 2 Jamaicans who had been selling jerk dishes from a road side stand formed Walkerswood and bottled this traditional seasoning in hot and mild versions.
Singapore Chicken Rice
The ingredients for Chicken Rice, Singapore's national dish, include garlic, ginger, onions, salt, pepper, cilantro, tomato, sesame oil, rice and chicken broth.
The chicken is seasoned, poached and served on a bed of long grain rice that has been cooked in chicken broth.
This Hainanese dish originated in China and was adapted after Chinese immigrants brought it to Singapore where it is available at hawker stalls or high end restaurants. This dish can also be found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Chicken Paprikash (Hungary)
Chicken Paprikash gets its name from the paprika that is used to prepare it.
Other ingredients include butter, chicken stock, onions, salt and sour cream.
Some cooks add tomato and pepper.
This journey has ended and I have only explored a fraction of the possibilities. Some of the other choices include coq au vin from France, fricasseed chicken from Jamaica, Tandoori chicken from India, chicken teriyaki from Japan and chicken satay from Malaysia. One thing is certain, chicken does not deserve a bad rap and event planners never have to settle for a boring chicken dish again.