We in the Indian subcontinent are all too familiar with what the word curry entails. The ‘wet’ variety of curry with vegetables and meat submerged in spicy gravy is a commonplace sight and smell in our kitchens. However, it will come as a surprise that the origin of curry is not only Indian but Southeast Asians can also lay claim to it. And man, do they know how to make a good curry! These scrumptious curries mostly form part of the Nyonya or Peranakan cuisine, which as I had written earlier is a perfect marriage of Chinese ingredients with spices and cooking techniques from the Malay Peninsula.
The curry chicken recipe that I am sharing is one such mouth-watering Peranakan preparation. It’s a richer, thicker and for me a more delectable version of our much celebrated chicken aloo. It’s the most common type of chicken curry that Chinese families cook in Singapore and Malaysia and they eat it with toasted French bread or baguette.
For the paste
- 8 shallots, coarsely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 two-inch piece galangal/fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Salt, to taste
- Dried red chillies, to taste
- 1 lemongrass, whites only, pounded
- 2 tablespoons soybean oil/ vegetable oil
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cumin, freshly powdered
- ¼ teaspoon aniseed
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander, freshly powdered
For the curry
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¾ lbs or 350 grams chopped chicken pieces preferably with bones
- 2 medium potatoes, cubed
- 2 cups coconut milk or normal milk
For the Paste
- Pound the shallots, garlic and ginger together
- Combine the spices and dry fry in a wok over low heat, stirring constantly so spices don’t burn. Fry for 5 minutes.
- Add oil and shallot mixture and cook for 5 minutes over low heat or until the mixture releases its aroma.
- Set aside
For the Curry
- Cut a whole chicken in 14-16 pieces and use 350 grams of that.
- Cube each potato in to 2-4 pieces
- Heat oil in a cooking pot on medium-low heat. Add the spice paste and stir-fry for ½ minute.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and add chicken
- Stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the chicken is slightly brown
- Add potatoes and stir fry for 3 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until the chicken and potatoes are cooked.
- Serve hot with toasted and sliced French bread or white rice.