Let’s talk about ugly meals.

Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken I howsweeteats.com

Whyyy must they be the best dishes? Like, say… almost everything that comes out of a crockpot. Certain soups. Mushroom cream sauces. Beef stew. Fudge. Anything curry related.

Things like this!

I mentioned last week that triangle-shaped things were my least favorite object/food to photograph, but I think I have a new favorite. Err, a new least favorite? Whatever.

Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken I howsweeteats.com

It has to be Thai curry dishes. Attempting to photograph them in a manner that does not highlight their hideous looking ways is nearly impossible. It almost always ends with a plate that looks like it’s covered with a bunch of slop. I swear it tastes good. I promise. I swear I swear I swear.

(And now I’m singing All 4 One’s version in  my head for the next three days.) It’s life.

We already discussed my feelings (read: intense adoration) for all things pomegranates. I will not put you through that again. So, moving on.

Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken I howsweeteats.com

It’s safe to say that Thai curry dishes have been put in the permanent rotation at our house when it comes to easy, weeknight dinners. We freaking love them. It started with this chicken curry, moved on to this chickpea curry (lots of chicks) and now I’m trashing it up with my favorite magenta fruit. Or fuchsia. Is a pomegranate fuchsia or magenta? Or is it just red? No. That’s boring.

It’s definitely of a hot pink variety, at least in Jessica eyes.

Even though Thai is one of my favorite cuisines (only coming in second, or maybe a very close tie, to Mexican/Tex-Mex  dishes), I rarely ever ever ever order any sort of curry when I’m eating in a restaurant.

I’ll tell you why, but it’s embarrassing.

I just can’t get over the delicious, oh-so predictable and stay-in-the-box choice of pad Thai Ugh. I love it so much. I know. So, so common. I am.

BUT. I don’t even care. Those spicy noodles. The crunchy peanuts! I hate every minute that I’m not eating it. It’s the safe meal I don’t think I could ever get sick of.

While most dining out experiences get me pumped to try new dishes and things that I’ve never had before or things that scare the utter crap out of me, that is so not the case here. I walk in to a Thai restaurant, totally preparing to order outside of my comfort zone and then I’m like oh my gosh but the freaking pad Thai I need it I will die if I don’t order it I must have it. Now.

Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken I howsweeteats.com

Yes, sometimes we’ve ordered it as a third dish when we are splitting things but it never fails: I usually end up forcing myself upon the dish. It’s all I really want.

Sidebar: going somewhere and ordering three dinners (like between two people) is my favorite. Well, wait. Actually going somewhere and ordering three breakfasts (between two people) trumps all. And if we are talking breakfast for dinner???? Ha! I’m dead. Dead in my glory.

Long story long, I’ve totally fell in love with making dishes like this at home. Just to drive that whole point home. This curry is super simple and can be done within 30 minutes or so. Piled on top of some coconut pom rice and dinner is so quickly served that it’s ridiculous. I actually might like it even better the next say though – for lunch.  Or breakfast.

I have no shame. None.

Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken I howsweeteats.com


Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken

Yield: serves 2-4

Total Time: 35 minutes


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 cup snow peas, cut in half
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 lime, juiced and zest grated
1/3 cup pomegranate arils
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

coconut rice
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups light canned coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pomegranate arils


Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet or pot over medium heat and add coconut oil. Add in the chicken and cook until it is browned and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the chicken and set it aside on a plate. If needed, add a bit more coconut oil - though it may not be necessary.

Add the leeks to the skillet and stir. Cook until the leeks are softened, then stir in the garlic, ginger and curry paste. Add in the snow peas and chicken, stirring well. Cook for 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the pomegranate juice. Stir to scrape any bits off the bottom of the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce it to a simmer and add in the lime juice and zest. Cook for 10 minutes before serving. Taste and season additionally if needed. Garnish with the cilantro and pom arils.

coconut rice
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add rice, coconut milk, coconut water and salt. Stir, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 15-18 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, then stir in coconut oil. Before serving, stir in the pom arils. (My favorite jasmine rice is the brown jasmine rice from Trader Joe's - all brands may have different cook times. Adjust the liquid and cook time according to your directions.)

[adapted from this chickpea curry]

Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken I howsweeteats.com

ugly meals FTW.

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66 Responses to “Thai Curry Pomegranate Chicken.”

  1. #
    Trisha — October 17, 2013 @ 6:55 am

    I have been playing with the idea of cooking with pomegranate! this is a fab recipe for me to use ! thanks for sharing x


  2. #
    Neena — October 17, 2013 @ 6:56 am

    Looking delish! And the pomegranate is the conversation ingredient. Such an unusual combination to tempt the taste buds. Will have to try.


  3. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — October 17, 2013 @ 7:09 am

    I give you major props on these photos! The first thing I thought when I saw them was wow, she had her hands full. And you rocked it! They’re gorgeous. And the flavors, I bet so rich and well-developed…ginger, coconut milk and oil, the whole thing, wonderful. And I love that Antrho plate. I think anything on that plate WILL look fabulous!


  4. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — October 17, 2013 @ 7:31 am

    Wow! You have such amazing flavors in this dish!! Love that you used pomegranates! I just love those little arils!! What a great meal!! Your photos look incredible!!


  5. #
    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche — October 17, 2013 @ 7:41 am

    Haha I totally agree that the best foods are often the ugliest! It’s far too often I find myself saying ‘I swear it tastes better than it looks’!

    I find that meals like this sometimes look better in a bowl – they don’t look as ‘sloppy’! There’s a Thai curry recipe on my blog and I actually ended up quite proud of my photos, and now it’s one of my most popular posts!


  6. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — October 17, 2013 @ 7:48 am

    WOW! This looks amazing, and you know I’m up for anything Thai! I totally hear you on the ugly foods. Curries, although one of my favourite dishes, are pretty much always ugly. I mean, they don’t look that bad in real life but on camera? Blah. Yours however, always seem to look pretty! :)


  7. #
    Belinda @themoonblushbaker — October 17, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    It is always the ugly food that get looked over. This is why nobody ever post recipes for curried or stews!
    I still think you done a great job, those colours are hard to work with. Green and red are so often discoloured, but your photography skills seem to skip over that. Great recipe


  8. #
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite — October 17, 2013 @ 8:36 am

    I think these photos are pretty dang good. I agree with you about soup and Mexican food.


  9. #
    nes — October 17, 2013 @ 9:13 am

    bring on the sweets!


  10. #
    Tracy | Peanut Butter And Onion — October 17, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    You make ugly look good


  11. #
    Ashley — October 17, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    Did somebody say 3 breakfasts? I’m so in. Totally agree about the best things being the hardest to photograph!!


  12. #
    Gaby — October 17, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    On some level I think that people get too tied up in the visual aesthetics of food. Like you said, some of the very best dishes are messy and unattractive. Apparently cameras don’t like sloppy stuff. But this certainly won’t keep me from trying it out and eating it! Thanks for showing us some “ugly” food!


  13. #
    Christy — October 17, 2013 @ 9:32 am

    What brand of red curry paste do you use? I think the one I have is Thai Kitchen and it has disappointed me when I try to replicate curries at home…the restaurants’ curries are always infinitely better. :(

    Regarding pad thai, I have a love affair with it too, but have you ever tried making it at home?! So easy! It’s like a 15 minute meal. And, of course, then you can add even more cilantro/peanuts/lime juice! :)

    P.S. Love your “about Jessica” pic at the bottom…adorb!


    • Jessica — October 17th, 2013 @ 9:36 am

      Thank you!
      I do use the Thai Kitchen brand but I definitely do not have the most sophisticated palate when it comes to curries!
      And yes, I’ve made pad thai at home, love it!


      • Christy — October 17th, 2013 @ 11:28 am

        Lol, I think you have an excellent palate! I’ll check the expiration date on my curry paste…that could be the culprit. I tend to buy things and not use them right away.

  14. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — October 17, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    my favorite things to photograph are circular, but that’s just me :)


  15. #
    Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats — October 17, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    I don’t think Ive ever made anything with curry at home! I have to change that! And your pictures are gorgeous always, so stop it!
    Pad Thai is the ultimate…it’s my go to take-out ALL the time..I love it so so so much, and I dont even dare try to make it at home because Ill ruin it, it won’t be full of msg and all that good stuff! ;)
    Poms are the bomb. (that wasn’t supposed to rhyme. also..who even says “the bomb” anymore?)


  16. #
    Ashley@BakerbyNature — October 17, 2013 @ 9:57 am

    This is all prettiness to my eyes!


  17. #
    cindy — October 17, 2013 @ 10:02 am

    Those pomegranate arils make this pretty! Never underestimate a garnish to turn around an ugg dish.

    and, I am ALL ABOUT ordering a 3rd dish to split between two people. I mean, Megan and I always order a little somethin’ extra (last week we both got entrees, shared an app, AND an order of fries). When I go to breakfast with my mom, we always order savory breakfasts and something sweet to share. Breakfast dessert!


    • Jessica — October 17th, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

      I’m so jealous and just want to be your neighbor.


  18. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — October 17, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    Posted a slow cooker chicken tikka masala today…ugly meals #FTW is right! PS: I also hate every minute I’m not eating pad thai.


  19. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — October 17, 2013 @ 10:12 am

    I dono, it looks pretty taste to me! And I always order the exact same thing at my favorite Vietnamese place too. Every time, I think about branching out and trying all new dishes and it gives me anxiety. Just can’t do it.


  20. #
    Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen — October 17, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    Um. Just died. I want so much rice now.


  21. #
    Melgie — October 17, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    This is look really good. Thanks for sharing the recipe


  22. #
    Larry — October 17, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

    Dude, ugly meals are always the BEST. (so funny cuz this makes me think of the episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte hooks up with Harry for the first time and she tells Anthony about it and he’s like “Ugly sex is hot” bahahaha)
    LIke mole!? LOOKS GROSS TASTES OMG AWESOME. Shephard’s Pie = barf on a plate = HEAVEN IN MY MOUTH. etc. etc.


  23. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — October 17, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

    Your “ugly” meals are SO not ugly!! If you want to see ugly you should see some of my dishes haha. But they do always taste great and that’s all that matters!


  24. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — October 17, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    Well at least the pomegranate seeds look pretty! haha


  25. #
    Kristen @ notsodomesticated — October 17, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    I would love to try this soon. I’ve been on a big curry kick recently! It’s so good!


  26. #
    Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs — October 17, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

    This sounds delicious! I never would have thought to add pomegranate to a curry dish!


  27. #
    Jessica — October 17, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    Question: What is your technique for getting all those perfect pom seeds out?! I’m always so intimidated by asian cuisine’s especially thai, but hands down i will make this, and it will be wonderful. First time commentor, long time reader. I love how goofy you are. Thanks : )


    • Jessica — October 17th, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

      thank you for commenting! If I am just eating a pom, I will pick them out as I go. If I want to use them as a garnish or in a dish like this, I cut the pom, put it in a large bowl of water and pull the seeds out. They will mostly float to the top, then I remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a towel to dry. You can also pick out any pieces of the rind at that time.


      • Jessica — October 17th, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

        Thank you thank you so much for the response!!!

    • Angela @Little Apple Tree — October 19th, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

      You can also cut pomegranates in half, hold one inside a plastic bag and whack it with a wooden spoon. All the seeds should come flying out!


  28. #
    Jess — October 17, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    Hi Jessica I’m out of red curry paste, however I have Green Curry paste an I just for some fresh curry spice! Do you think the spice will work just as well?? Thanks! Love this dish making as we type!


    • Jessica — October 17th, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

      I actually have never personally cooked with green curry paste but I would think that the flavors will still work together. Let me know how it turns out!


  29. #
    Ruthy @ Omeletta — October 17, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

    Uglyfood for the win! You’re right’ it usually is the food that tastes best. Beef stew that photographs like dog food? Done. This thai curry (and pom seeds are genius, girl) Done and done-er.
    (and side note: I’m a sad Pad Thai order-er, too. I can quit the stuff! Especially with grilled tofu oh my god.)


  30. #
    Marie @ Little Kitchie — October 17, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    Looks prettyyyyy good to me!


  31. #
    Jenni — October 17, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    Gorgeous. I want to make this with tempeh instead of chicken. Do you think that would mesh well? I don’t know if you’re a tempeh fan or not.


    • Jessica — October 17th, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

      I actually love tempeh and think it would be great!


  32. #
    Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective — October 17, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

    Mmmmm…curry dishes are my fav! I bet the pomegranate makes it even more amazing! Love it!!


  33. #
    Eileen — October 17, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

    The ugliest meals are always the most delicious! Especially when they’re big bowls of fragrant curry like this. :) Love it.


  34. #
    amanda — October 17, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

    I see nothing ugly here! Your photos are incredible!


  35. #
    Catherine @ foodiecology — October 17, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

    Between this and your recent salad, I MUST buy pomegranates this weekend.
    Curry may not be the most gorgeous dish, but you’ve done a good job making it look attractive. Your photos are always fantastic, and this dish looks absolutely delicious!


  36. #
    ATasteOfMadness — October 18, 2013 @ 12:17 am

    This is nowhere near ugly. This looks fantastic! I would have never thought of adding pomegranates!


  37. #
    Katie — October 18, 2013 @ 5:27 am

    I think it looks delicious anyway =) I also adore pineapple its so fresh and crunchy! Yummy! Thank you it looks amazing!
    Love Katie ♥

    I just cooked a new Jamie Oliver 15min Meal. Please check it out: http://whatskatieupto.wordpress.com


  38. #
    Sunny — October 18, 2013 @ 6:47 am

    I absolutely make a meal with spaghetti squash noodles my kids call Eggplant Ugly Sauce! Hideous, but delish. :)


  39. #
    Nancy Long — October 18, 2013 @ 8:40 am

    Sounds wonderful – any suggestions for replacing the coconut oil. Can’t justify expense for a bottle of something I only need a few spoons of. THanks


    • Jessica — October 18th, 2013 @ 10:30 am

      coconut oil works!


  40. #
    Donna — October 18, 2013 @ 9:13 am

    Someone just HAD to ask this out of the pale-blogosphere….Could I possibly do this marvel with “riced ” cauliflower?…I don’t do rice…not that I don’t miss it at times!!


    • Jessica — October 18th, 2013 @ 10:30 am

      i’m sure you could! i’ve never done the cauliflower rice thing so i am probably not the best to ask.


  41. #
    Susan — October 18, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    OMG!!! This looks freaking delicious. We’re on a budget, but I ‘m willing to break the bank for this one. And the dish is not ugly! How could anything be ugly when it is garnished with jewel like pomegranate arils?


  42. #
    Barbara | Creative Culinary — October 18, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    Obviously these dishes are just ugly ducklings…there is beauty in there in the taste and we can all imagine that. I have yet to see a pom…I’m ready too; I share the love.


  43. #
    Ann @ PersnicketyBiscuit — October 18, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    Really enjoyed the post – and I think that curry looks pretty delicious!


  44. #
    Alexe @ Keys to the Cucina — October 18, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    Yummy! I haven’t cooked with curry much but I do enjoy it, thank you for sharing this recipe!


  45. #
    JennC — October 18, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

    Oh my goodness, pad thai. I can’t get enough of it, especially when it’s done well. I’d love to try a curry but the siren song of pad thai must be answered.

    PS. This looks amazing.


  46. #
    Janelle — October 18, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

    I’m totally the same about pad Thai to the point that I’ve never even tried curry in my life. Do you have a favorite pad Thai recipe that you use?? I haven’t found one that tastes authentic at home so everywhere we travel I’m like “must. find. best. pad. thai. restaurant!!” Predictable.


  47. #
    Cate @ Chez CateyLou — October 18, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

    This is so funny! Some food really is just ugly! I have made some great soups this fall, but the pictures look awful so I don’t want to put them on the blog! You did a great job though, this looks delicious!!


  48. #
    Kritina — October 18, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

    This is one great recipe you have here! Thanks a lot for sharing it. I absolutely love eating pomegranates and they are my favourite fruit ever! I live in Mauritius and we have pomegranates all year long here! We usually cook curries often at home as we like eating Indian food. I must agree with you; photographing curry dishes is a pain in the neck because they just look hideous but taste marvelously good. They may look awful but when you have a bite there’s an explosion of flavours, smell of spices and textures in the mouth. I believe curries are the most complicated thing to cook because not everyone can put the exact dose of spice mixtures to have a great curry.
    One has to careful when making a curry dish. I love a nice spicy lamb curry with mint and yogurt sauce accompanied with Indian naan or rice.
    I have a blog on cooking for a Web module and I am happy to have commented on your blog. Please do reply to this comment. I find your work amazing and I am definitely bookmarking your blog as inspiration. : ) Thanks a lot and continue this wonderful work of yours.



  49. #
    Rosina — October 18, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

    The best Thai curry I ever ate!!! My boyfriend gave it a 10/10, and I think it tasted even better than the Thai curry from my favourite Thai restaurant. Thanks for developing and sharing! I was hesitant about the pomegranate seeds at first, because I thought maybe the seeds would be annoying to eat, but it turns out they really added to it and I love the added flavour! Best of all, this meal was so simple and easy to make, even for a beginner cook like me.


  50. #
    Michelle — October 20, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

    Thank you for saying that you have ordered three dishes for dinner. I have been feeling like such a freak for doing this. My husband and I always get three dishes when we order Thai — two pad thais and one curry. We love both of these so much that we cannot choose. Plus, it means leftovers for lunch the next day :)



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