That Time I Accidentally Made “Coconut Salsa Chicken”

Oh, where to even start with this one?

How about with some guiding principles for my kitchen?

#1: I hate grocery shopping.

BIP (before Instant Pot), I maybe went every other month — quarterly is probably closer to reality. I just seriously hate grocery shopping. Short of staffing the entire store with the cast of Thunder from Down Under (Pro Tip: do not follow that link from work), I’m not sure what you could do to make me actually enjoy grocery shopping.

No, that’s not true.

“Lemme push that cart for you”

Colin O’Donoghue. Colin O’Donoghue could totally make me actually enjoy grocery shopping.

Now I’m not sure how much grocery shopping I would manage to accomplish — but I’d totally be enjoying every second of that lack of accomplishment.

(Pro Tip: Do not google “Colin O’Donoghue in leather pants” from work.)

(You’re totally googling “Colin O’Donoghue in leather pants” from your phone now, aren’t you?)

Ahem. OK, where was I….?

SIP (since Instant Pot), my hatred of grocery shopping hasn’t improved all that much. The fact that I’m usually going around 9:30pm in the middle of the week — long after they’ve stopped restocking the shelves for the night in the meat department — does not help matters. Needless to say, this all interferes in my ability to consistently feed myself, leading to nights such as this one, where I don’t have what I need to make a recipe.


#2: My refrigerator is usually where fruits / vegetables / herbs go to die.

Somehow, the produce department knows when I’m there. Because that is when the items that have lost their will to live muster up enough energy to push their way to the front of the line so that they can come home with me.

I don’t know if it’s some kind of Hot Mess pheromone, that only fruits / vegetables / herbs can smell, but it doesn’t matter how painstakingly I inspect the carton of raspberries, or how many I inspect trying to find the perfect one — as soon as they get into my cart they just heave a sigh of relief and start to rot then and there. (I am fairly certain this is the produce department’s version of “Bra Off = Day Over“.)


#3: If something in a box, bag, jar, or tube claims to be able to replace a lost-the-will-to-live counterpart, I am sooooo gonna be all over that.

So say hello to my little friends for this latest adventure:

Garlic in Glass

Cilantro in Cylinder

Tomatoes in Tub

Getting Started

The following adventure is inspired by Urvashi Pitre’s new cookbook “Instant Favorites easy and delicious Indian Pressure Cooking“.  (If you don’t have it yet, and you like Indian food, you need to geeeet iiiiitttt now!)

Had I actually had the ingredients available — the plan was to try her Beef Curry recipe. But, predictably, for this immediate moment in time, I did not have on-hand the ingredients needed for what my stomach has decided should be for dinner.

One of the things that I really like about Urvashi’s recipes is that she goes out of her way to make them easy. The original recipe calls for tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, spices, and beef. Easy peasie lemon squeezie and totally doable for most normal people, right?

But by now, you’ve hopefully already learned that “most normal people” is definitely not me!

Case in point: It is only now that I am realizing that I totally forgot the onion. 🙁


The Saga

Buckle up, here we go!

First things first. Nope on having any real tomatoes. I need 2 of them, but I have 0 of them, and that is a problem.  But I have a tub of little tomatoes that are about to commit suicide — so they totally need to be used soon, and are thus “volunteered” for this mission.

No, they were not given the “should you choose to accept this mission” speech — they had no choice in the matter, and the tape just self-destructed, without warning, in a puff of totally-not-carcinogenic smoke.


Grab the food processor, and dump in the entire tub of tomatoes. Notice that a whole bunch of them have the geriatric wrinklyballs look, and a few look like they have white measles — so time to dump them out and try again.

This time I put them back only after thorough individual inspections. Surprisingly, only about 6 of them got totally rejected, while about half of the rest were still totally good, and the remaining half classified as “probably won’t actually kill me”. So we’re technically off to a good start!


For the onions, we already know I totally crashed and burned there, so no onion.


And for garlic, you already know that I love my garlic-in-a-jar, so of course I have that on hand and ready to rock-n-roll. Recipe wants 4 cloves, but 1 Tbsp seems totally fine, right? So I dig on down with my Tbsp and scoop up all that yummy goodness and fling it in on top of the tomatoes.


But cilantro is the big problem. I’m supposed to have 1/2 c of fresh cilantro, but the last of my fresh cilantro died tragically by drowning in its own goo a few days ago, so WTF am I going to do about not having any cilantro?

Except that I do have cilantro — in a tube. Good enough! Woot! We may actually have something to work with!

But now for the hard part. How do I convert 1/2 c of leafy-style cilantro to tube-style cilantro? Fortunately the back of the tube tells me it’s a one-to-one replacement. My handy little measurement conversion magnet that tells me 1/2 c = 8 Tbsp, and — bonus! — I already have the Tbsp out!

Squiiiiiiiiiish. Squish. Splort. And thwack it in with the garlic. There’s one.

SquiiiiiiiiiiiishSplortThwack. There’s two.

SquuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuishThawck. There’s three.

I need EIGHT of these little F’ers? OK, this is getting annoying really quickly.  Check the conversion magnet again, and see 1/2 c = 4 fl oz. Check the cilantro tube: 4 oz! Score!

Besides, who needs to worry about anything like conversion between solid and liquid measure. It says 4 oz so I’m going for it! Everybody into the pool!

SquiiiishSqueeeeezeSplooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrt SquishSquishSquishSquish!


Ok, what next? Time to mix already? OK, fine, bzzzzzt bzzzzzt bzzzzzzzzzzzt. Oooh! Already starting to smell yummy! Open it up to take a look and scrape the sides, and it totally looks like I’m making salsa. Taste test. Hooooooooooooooo momma! That’ll wake you up!

Add Spices

Time for spices. Yes, you read that correctly — the spices aren’t even in yet and it’s already waking me up!

The original recipe wants 1 tsp each of cumin and garam masala, 1/2 tsp each of coriander and cayenne. So I try my best to use individual 1 tsp and 1/2 tsp spoons and not cross-contaminate my spice jars. Do note that I cannot measure worth shit out of round jars, so there is no leveling off. So it’s safe to assume that an additional 1/8 to 1/4 of each actually went into the food processor.

Bzzzzt Bzzzzt Bzzzzt! Taste test again! Yowza!

I totally just made Indian Salsa!

So you know what comes next, right?

Corn Chip Taste Test!

And I oh-so-conveniently have a bag of almost-stale corn chips that need to be used up!

*crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *slurp* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *slurp* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *pay no attention to the dribbles appearing down the front of me* *crunch* *slurp* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *slurp* *crunch* *crunch*

Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be cooking with this, huh?

For the record: Corn Chip Taste Test totally passed. A+

Time to Cook

We already know I don’t have any beef, but I totally have a vaccu-sealed package of frozen chicken thighs that is of course totally not in the shape of the bottom of my Instant Pot.  So in goes the frozen brick of chicken — at an angle.

Pour the 2 cup yield of Indian Salsa over the top, use a silicon spatula to smear it around on top of the chicken brick, and under the chicken brick, and try to get full coverage of the bottom of the pot.

Worry that there’s not enough liquid, so add 1 c of tap water and we’re off to the races!

Manual, 8 minutes, High Pressure, 10 minutes Natural Release

*wait* *wait* *wait*

*timelapse fade out*

*timelapse fade in*

Open the lid and wonder WTF. (Because of course.)

There’s a layer of oil across the surface, and for some reason I expected the chicken brick to magically separate into its component parts. Oh well, at least a chicken brick is easier to remove. Heeere chickie chickie chickie!

Promptly burn myself trying to chop the chicken right away without waiting for it to cool any.

Because of course I did.

Dealing with the Sauce

The sauce is oily. After several moments of trying to figure out where the hell oil came from, it finally dawns on me that it was from the jar of garlic. Memo to self, drain oil before flinging garlic.

The sauce is runny. At this point it looks like a thin minestrone, in both color and texture. It’s not water-thin, but definitely not sauce-thick either. I conclude that the 1 c of water added prior to cooking could probably have just been 1/2 c. So make a mental note of that, wouldja?

But — how to solve this problem?

{* begin video montage *}

(ProTip: Press the play button to the left 😀 )

(ProTip #2: If you wait for the right time to start reading the text below, you can totally pace it so that it matches the music.)



First I try cornstarch. And scoop some into a bowl.

Forgot to measure it. But add sauce any way.

Totally forget to pay attention — got more solid than liquid.

It’s a cornstarch slurry — I swear!

Go in for more….

….finally enough.

StirStir Stirrrrrrrrrrr.

Stir Stir.

{* pause for thought *}

Prob-a-bly have. Three. Table-spoons here…….! As….

….you can see — from the photo here — I kinda created…

Holy. Hell.

At this point…. I’m wondering… if I really want… to eat that!

{* pause in shock *}

I’ve got cats….

And what sits here…

Looks frighteningly like — I’ve stepped in it! 

Toss it in.

Hope for the best.

Ohhhhh welllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll……..

Realize that while I was dilly dallying on the cornstarch that Saute Less has now become Saute Too Damn Much and the sauce is scorching. Because of course it is.

Press cancel, scoop the cat barf cornstarch mixture into the pot, and stir, and hope for the best. Stir stir stir.  Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Turn Saute Less back on. Stir Stir Stir Wait Wait Wait. Still nada.

Da Fuq is going on here? Start to question whether or not it was hot liquid I was supposed to mix in with the cornstarch, or cold water. Well shit. Can’t remember, don’t have time to deal. Hungry tummy is hungry. Must plow forward.

Think think think. I’ve got some heavy cream left over from when I make Chicken Curry Stew. But it was already hinting at becoming chunky, and that was a few days ago, so probably best not to risk it.

What about coconut milk? That totally failed last time too.

Hunt through cupboards for something that might help. Oooh! Coconut Cream!

Finishing Things Up

After the appearance issues caused by the cornstarch — adding another “something white” was probably not the best choice on my part…..

Must. Plow. Forward. Open the can, and scoop it all in. Stir Stir Stir

Somehow manage to splash a ton of hot liquid down the front of me. Because of course.

Taste test. That will do, because at this point, I’ve achieved “seriously hungry”, and “seriously sick of dealing with this latest dumpster fire”.


Sadly, the coconut flavor didn’t last, and it didn’t really help thicken up the sauce.

But, it was totally edible hot out of the pot, and did have a coconut flavor for the first serving.

Alas, after it cooled down, the coconut flavor faded and sadly didn’t come back even with reheating.

Not sure I’d classify this as a success. Though, I suppose “edible” in my kitchen is a success.

Day-Later Addendum

I finished off the last of it for dinner tonight. Still no coconut flavor after reheating, but still quite a bite zing to the flavor.

I had the crazy idea to put some shredded coconut in it. Turns out it was sweetened shredded coconut, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The sweetness helped tame the zing of the spiciness, the coconut flavor came subtlety back, and the texture difference of the shredded coconut helped balance things out as well.

Inspiration Credit

Remember that the above adventure was inspired by Urvashi Pitre’s Beef Curry recipe. So please pop on over to her site to give her some love, and try her real recipe!


Dumpster Fire Coconut Salsa Chicken

For entertainment purposes only

Combine the following, in a food processor, to make the Indian Salsa (yields about 2 cups):

  • 10.5 oz container of small tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic from a jar, omit oil
  • 4 oz tube of cilantro paste
  • 1+1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1+1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne

Add to the pot:

  • 4 frozen chicken thighs
  • 2 cups Indian Salsa
  • 1/2 cup water

Cook for 8 minutes on High, then 10 minutes NPR

Remove chicken and set aside to cool.,

Cancel Keep Warm, and change to Saute Less.

Bring the sauce to a simmer, then add:

Stir to incorporate, and allow it to melt.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop and return to the pot.

Serve in a bowl with a spoon.

After serving, optionally mix in some sweetened shredded coconut, to preference, for a texture enhancement, flavor enhancement, and so the sweetness can help tame the spiciness.

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  • Bethany

    Geriatric wrinklyballs! Classic!!! Love these posts!!!!

  • Pam Hammitt

    Great wish I had the guts to do dumpster fire cooking. Hilarious! Love the cat barf glad my cat doesn’t barf very often. Love it! ❤

  • Mary Neese

    I can’t talk! Laughing too hard!

  • Marysue

    I don’t know who you are or how I found you, but I love you and you’re my soul-foodie. You had me cracking up WHILE suffering from a splitting headache; very difficult task, yet you passed with flying colors! Your kitchen adventure sounds so much like mine, it’s uncanny. My closest relative is that guy who people curse because if anything CAN go wrong, it WILL, and it’s his fault…yeah…him. Thank you for the laugh, even if it did feel like my brain was being used as a Gallagher experiment!

    Ps…the dish looks very good. I like coconut and chicken, and I will be trying it!

  • Sheri Cheung

    This is the first post I have read. You have a convert. ❤️

  • Connie Richardson

    OMG Jen, you are my kinda gal! You speak the way I do when I talk, just can’t transfer it to written words. Keep writing, will be first in line for the book when it’s published. Thanks for the laughs! ♥♥

  • Janna Mogilewicz Ahmed

    You just made my day! I burst out laughing and had to stop and rewind and then pause my greys anatomy. And if you get Colin to go grocery shopping with you, I’m totally coming along!!

  • Lisa Angermann

    I-COULD-NOT-STOP-LAUGHING!!! “geriatric wrinklyballs” I know exactly what you were talking about!!! Maybe extra oily-stuff from the cilantro, too? Do they put it in oil to put it in the tube??? Anyway, loving your posts!!!

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