Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recipe: my mom's Curry Chicken

My mother is a great cook. She can concoct anything in her kitchen, and it tastes fantastic. I know...everybody says that about their mother, but I say this not only because I grew up eating her food, but also as a seasoned gourmet..traveling the world over for work, but always taking time to sample the gastronomic delights...cooking as varied as sous vide in France, all manner of cooked and un-cooked food in Japan, spicy stuff in Thailand, fragrant and spicy biryanis and currys in India, fresh seafood and al dente pasta in Italy, huge steaks in the US, et al.

My mother grew up in a traditional Khek household, her grandfather walked (yes on foot!!) from China...a journey that must have taken years...and married into a 10 generation peranakan family must have been tough.

My father's sisters and aunts were wonderful cooks themselves, each lording over their kitchens, and each with some special dish which was mind-blowing in its excellence. But each jealously guarding their recipes, never telling more than 90% of the technique or ingredients. During family gatherings, always a great opportunity to feast, they would bring their specialities as pot luck, and impress everybody. My mom, had to learn peranakan cooking, by piecing together bits and pieces from the secretive family, and experimenting on her own.

I am introducing a series of articles now, to capture some of her recipes. The measurements are never exact, her sense of taste prevails.

1 chicken, about 1.5 kg
about 6 tablespoons of oil. We usually use peanut oil, but any vegetable oil is fine. For a richer but less healthy alternative, ghee can be used
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 shallots 500g
1 belachan
1 thumb sized lengkuas (galangal)
1 thumb sized kunyit (tumeric)
2 packets of Alagappa curry. We used to live next to an Indian family who grind their own fresh spices. I would run over and purchase 20cents for curry. They use a grinding stone to make the curry paste from scratch. See here for a description.
3 sprigs of curry leaves
1 table spoon of chilli sauce
100g dried chilli, scald with boiling water, remove seeds, ground till powder, fry with a little oil till dry…use 1 table spoon
1 coconut two pressings for santan. 1 bowl first pressing – dilute with half bowl of water, 1 bowl second pressing dilute 1 bowl of water

Cut chicken into size, about 2" a piece is good
Boil and peel potatoes. Cut to rough cubes about 2" across

Curry gravy

Grind lemongrass, with shallots, lengkuas, kunyit with food processor till it reaches consistency of a paste
Saute in oil till golden brown
Curry powder mix with water to paste
Add paste, chilli
Add chicken, add second pressing of santan and cook till tender
Add curry leaves,
Add the boiled potatoes, skin peeled earlier
Simmer till potatoes tender
Add first pressing of santan
Salt to taste

Serve with basmati rice.

Please let me know, post a comment, if you would like to read more of these recipes or just regular restaurant and hawker reviews.
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