October 19, 2013

Chicken Curry with Boys

I bought this serving piece in 2007 when we were on our honeymoon in St. Lucia. We were in a market and the woman selling them mistook my quiet looking as a bargaining technique. I was literally just standing there looking at the pretty wooden pieces and thinking about if I could use one for anything and she pounced on me, announcing rapidly lower and lower prices, me not playing a role in this conversation and just wishing I could browse in peace, until I pretty much couldn't pass up the price she worked herself down to and felt the need to buy it just to get away. But I am glad I was such a savvy bargainer because I am actually quite fond of it. The only thing I have ever used the piece for is to serve the "boys" along with curry and rice. I'm not much for one-use kitchen acquisitions but when it is this pretty, and this perfect for its one use, I make exceptions. 

I first heard of the idea of curry with boys when my mother in law made it for me years ago. (I am told that calling the side dishes "boys" comes from the fact that many boys were needed to serve the different condiments for the curry.) I immediately loved it-- so colorful with so many different flavors and textures. I'm a big food mixer. Even when I have a meal made up of separate components (steak, potatoes, vegetable), I combine every bite with a bit of something else. So this, a meal all about combinations, is perfect for me. Also, I love one-dish meals, as you can probably tell from the count of 20 such recipes with that label on this blog. It's sort of funny to call a recipe featuring nine little dishes in the above photo alone "one-dish." Apparently for me, the dish count of a meal has to do with the number of things I have to dream up/plan for, vs. actual number of dishes. So, curry with boys: one dish.

I'm not deeply attached to any curry recipe itself, and am certainly not experienced in making curries at all. But this (cheating, not authentic at all) one that I found on a blog was good and easy. (Feel free to share with me if you have a favorite that's better!) But I mostly wanted to share the colorful idea of the boys because it's a meal that makes you smile.   

Chicken Curry with Boys

Chicken Curry
slightly adapted from savour-fare.com

~2 T butter
1 1/2 apples, finely chopped
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T flour
3 t curry powder
1 t+ salt
1 C milk
1 C chicken broth
~1 lb cooked, chopped chicken

Melt butter in a large saute pan. Add apple, onion, and garlic, and cook over medium low heat, covered, till onions are translucent, ~10 minutes.

Add flour, curry powder, and salt. Cook and stir a couple minutes. 

Add milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. 

Add chicken and heat through. Serve over rice with boys at the table to mix and match as you please.

Serve any number of the following in individual little dishes:
  • diced celery
  • diced carrot
  • chopped tomatoes
  • raisins
  • hard-boiled egg whites, chopped
  • hard-boiled egg yolks, chopped
  • chutney
  • peanuts
  • grated coconut
  • sunflower seeds
  • chopped parsley


  1. This is very similar to a recipe I grew up with. We used to call the condiments "side boys". We used to also include sliced bananas, and now, I also use finely chopped stuffed olives and kosher dill pickles. Thanks for posting this!

  2. This dish has been a family favorite for over 70 years, my mother learned this recipe in China in 1948, although we think it came from India. My mother had 15 boys, my wife raised that up to 36 (the more boys, the wealthier you were). We never ever had more than one servant and that was in Japan. It became the Christmas Eve dinner and know my grown children are doing it. Some additional boys were: sweet and del pickle, onion, bacon, baby corn, banana, pineapple, celery, chives and water chestnuts. There are so many more, but it’s up to your taste. This is a great dish for the family and the kids love it because they get to build their own.

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  4. This was introduced to me as a young newlywed Navy wife in California in the mid 70s. They were called side boys in that community. Our favorites were chutney, bacon, hard boiled eggs, peanuts, raisins, coconut, cheddar cheese... I'm preparing it for friends soon, keeping the tradition going!