Nonya Chicken Curry
Once upon a time I would never have believed I could make anything that tasted like an authentic Malaysian curry from scratch but thanks to Poh Ling Yeow’s wonderful cookbook ,’Poh’s Kitchen’, victory is mine (insert evil laugh).
Yes, it’s a bit more daunting than the other recipes I’ve shared with you so far but I’ve found once you have the ingredients and take deep, slow breaths, everything works out just fine. It is divine.
There are two preparatory steps to this recipe, one is making the Rempah or spice paste, and the other is roasting and grinding the spices. They aren’t tricky to do, just fiddly. After that, the curry is very straightforward.
The aromas that waft out of your kitchen as this dish cooks will have everyone salivating. Enjoy!
NONYA CHICKEN CURRY (Serves 4)
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
100ml coconut cream
6-7 sprigs of curry leaves
1.5kg chicken thigh fillets
300g baby chat potatoes, peeled and halved
2 bird’s-eye chillies, deseeded and halved lengthways
400ml coconut milk
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar.
Fresh coriander to serve
Rempah (Spice paste)
15 long dried red chillies, deseeded, soaked in hot water, drained and chopped
270g red shallots, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
20g belachan, (shrimp paste), toasted*
25 fresh tumeric root, chopped.
Dry toast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a small frying pan until fragrant and beginning to smoke. Tip into a mortar and pestle or an electic spice grinder and grind to a powder. Set aside.
If you are using the traditional mortar and pestle method to make the rempah, start by pounding a small amount of the prepared dried chillies adding small handfuls at a time and pounding thoroughly into a fine paste. Next add in small quantities the shallots, garlic, belachan and tumeric and pound in the same manner until it becomes a homogenous fine paste. If using a mini food processor, still exercise the same patience and pulverise by adding small amounts of the ingredients at a time to achieve a fine paste without adding water.
Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based non-stick saucepan or wok, on a medium heat. Toast the star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick for about 20 seconds. Add the rempah and saute for about 6-10 minutes or until sauce becomes very fragrant and is emitting very little steam. Add the toasted dry ingredients. coconut cream and curry leaves and keep cooking until very fragrant. You will know when the mixture is ready when the oil begins to separate from the mixture.
Add the chicken pieces and stir for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, chillies, coconut milk, salt and sugar. Cover and simmer until chicken and potatoes are tender. Serve with roti and/or steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with fresh coriander
*To toast the belachan, take the desired amount and wrap it in a double layer of foil, sealing the edges. Roast in an oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees C or until the belachan is dry, crumble and pungent
Serve with a glass of unoaked chardonnay.