Sunday, 5 February 2006

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry
I can still smell the pungent rich aroma of this nice curry. Lots of spicy tang from the tanglad (lemon grass), belachan (shrimp paste), lots of ginger, and of course the curry powder. Then enriched with the addition of coconut milk. Yum! This is more of a Southeast Asian type of curry rather than the Indian type which is noticeable with the lemon grass and belachan.

I've been hankering for a nice hot curry probably prodded on by the cold weather permeating Southern England right now. Instead of buying or borrowing another cookbook, I rummaged through all of mine scattered throughout the house where I found this gem of a recipe from one of my oldest cookbooks that hails all the way from Hong Kong (circa 1991), Cecilia Au-Yeung's Chopsticks Recipes: Introduction. And I just love love love the resulting aroma in this fabulous keeper of a dish. The only thing I had a problem with was the ginger juice. I didn't have enough of the root crop to squeeze that much besides I thought it's too much work for moi. So I just julienned about 2-square inch of it for the marinade and removed them before adding in the chicken. Other than that, it would help if you have an electric chopper so you could just whiz all the spices and wouldn't have to pound away with a heavy mortar and pestle. So if you find yourself in an Oriental store one time, pick up a few of the more exotic ingredients (the rest are common in kitchens everywhere) then do try this one - I highly recommend it!

Chicken Curry

1 1/2 kg  chicken - cut into serving pieces
2 onions - mashed or pureed
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp ginger juice*
2 Tbsp cooking wine
2 slices ginger
1 lemon grass
5 Tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves
2-3 chillies - seeded and chopped
2 tsp belachan (shrimp paste)
500 g  waxy potatoes - peeled and quartered
1/2 cup water
2 cups coconut milk
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chicken powder
  1. Mix the ginger juice, 1 Tbsp of the curry powder, and wine with the chicken. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Set aside.
  2. Remove outer skin of the lemon grass. Lightly mash then chop into smallish pieces.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle (or an electric blender/chopper) mash the lemon grass, garlic, ginger, belachan, and chillies into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  4. Combine 1 Tbsp of the oil with the turmeric powder and 2 Tbsp of the curry powder to make a thick paste.
  5. Heat a pan with 1 Tbsp oil and saute the pureed onions until aromatic.
  6. Add in the curry mixture and fry for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  7. Mix in the lemon grass mixture and stir to combine well.
  8. In a medium sized pot, heat 3 Tbsp oil and saute the curry-lemon grass mixture over low heat until pungent.
  9. Stir in the chicken with the marinade and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  10. Add in the water, salt, sugar and chicken powder. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Tip in the potatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.
  12. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to boil again.
  13. Remove from heat and dish up.
*Note: If you don't have the equipment nor the inclination to make ginger juice, peel and julienne a 2-inch square piece of ginger and use this instead.

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