Books, Cooking, ETWYRT, Recipe

Eat This While You Read That: Becky Jones

Today’s dish and book come from the inestimable Becky Jones, and really, it’s appropriate that I should be publishing this on Independence Day. As a former political science professor, she’s intimately familiar with the whys and wherefores of this great holiday. 

You won’t find politics in her Academic Magic series, but as the title should tell you, the fun urban fantasy books are deeply rooted in her past on campuses. Which I have to say lends so much fun with the reality of petty rivalries, amusing professorial quirks, and student shenanigans. 

You can read the third book in the series, Magic Abroad, with this meal, or you can start with the first if you have missed it, Academic Magic

Becky suggested that I pair the book with a chicken curry, and gave me guidelines on her usual ingredients, rather than a recipe. Which was useful. Curries are a stew, not a specific recipe, and as any stew the world-round, as flexible as the cook, the kitchen, and what you have on hand. 

I did make up a recipe, but you can easily alter it as you wish or need.

Chicken Coconut Curry

A couple of hours before you plan dinner, start the chicken marinading. A half hour before dinner prep, start rice in the cooker (I used a sticky rice, with a 1 c rice to 1 1/2 c water ratio).

Garam Masala paste is very handy, but if you only have the dry spice, just use 1 tbsp and you will have similar results.
  • 1/2 c yogurt
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste (or minced)
  • 8 oz coconut milk 

Whisk this together and pour over 

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into 1″ cubes

A ziplock works well to exclude air and squish around to be sure the marinade is coating well. Pop into the refrigerator until ready to use. 

In a wok or large skillet, over med-high heat, 

  • 2 tbsp ghee (or a veg. oil, just not olive as that has a low smoke point)
  • 1/4 c garam masala paste
  • 1 large onion, slivered
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

    Slivered onions and spice paste. So much spice!

Fry the spice paste and turmeric to ‘wake’ the flavors, and it will stick but don’t worry about that. Add in the onion, continuing to fry until softened. Add in the chicken and marinade, stirring well to loosen the bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to simmer uncovered for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add: 

  • 12 oz snap peas (ok, any veg you like will work well here!)

Continue to simmer and stir occasionally for another ten minutes without a lid. This will allow your sauce to thicken a bit. Add: 

  • Splash of fish sauce
  • Salt to taste

Serve over rice. Serves 4.

Put your veg in at the suitable time to allow it to cook, but not become mush. This is almost always after the chicken has begun cooking.

Richly spicy and unctuous! This is one of those meals with so many varieties. A bit like the Urban Fantasy genre. I think you’ll find the Academic Magic books are something new and interesting in the genre, even if you did think you’d gotten tired of that flavor. 

Rich, spiced, and filling. Curry is a wonderful food.

1 thought on “Eat This While You Read That: Becky Jones

  1. I enjoyed the first two books. Thanks for letting us know about the third!
    Becky does a great job at portraying academics as nearly clueless, mostly useless people stuck playing middle-school politics forever. I like how magic is rare and hidden, and even the witnesses mostly don’t believe in it. The campus squirrels are terrific. Very entertaining.

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