When it comes to making chicken curry, my hubby and I would always go for the instant curry paste. (video here) But my brother asked if I could make chicken curry like how Mom makes them. So I guess I go check it out anyway. So it turns out to be quite a time consuming "project".
After getting the recipe from my Mother, which was strangely simple, she insisted that we NEED to get the right curry powder, which HAS to be from the spice seller at Tekka Market. Tekka Market literally on the other side of the island! So we had to wait for a few days before she is free to go buy the curry powder.
photo source: CNN.com
If you are not familiar with the spice sellers at wet markets, they are like spice gurus. You just to tell them what you want to cook, your preferences, (how spicy you want it) and they will blend different spices for you. Anyway, we got the curry powder and I tried out Mom's recipe.
Strangely, it does not taste satisfying. Like... there's not enough depth in flavour.
So I did some research and tried focusing on the process rather than the ingredients.
1. STEP BY STEP
Instead of just throwing everything into the pot, I did it step by step. Slowly and steadily, I fry up the ingredients one at a time. And the results was amazingly different. Even though I did not use as many ingredients as a traditional Malaysian Curry, I compensate with my special custom mixed curry powder, which includes a wide variety of dried and grounded spices like tumeric, corriander, cumin, dried chilli, etc. So for my simplified curry, most of the ingredients are commonly used in my kitchen. Only need to buy 1 or 2 extra ingredients. Good.
2. LOW AND SLOW
Another hurdle was frying the spices. After making the 1st successful batch, I got cocky. So the 2nd time I cooked it, I up the fire when I was frying the spices, hoping to speed up the process. Unfortunately I got distracted and the spices got slightly burnt. It was just a little brown, so I continued cooking anyway. But the final curry looked strangely brown instead of the gorgeous red yellow. When I tasted it, there was a slight bitter taste to it. It was a definite fail. :( So please take your time when frying the spices. Don't be impatient like me!
Now let's look at the recipe.
Serves 2-3 persons
500g Chicken (I use thigh and wings)
3-4 waxy potatoes
1 large onion, diced (130g)
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 birdseye chilli/chilli padi (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stalk lemongrass (bruised)
1 stalk curry leaves
100ml coconut cream
2 tablespoon curry powder
- Par-boil your potatoes in salted water for about 5 minutes. I'm using waxy potatoes because they hold their shape better.
- Mix enough oil to the curry powder to make a thick paste.
- In low heat with a little oil, stir fry the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger until SLIGHTLY browned. Some may say that is not browned enough. That's because we are not done frying! If we continue to fry them after they have been browned, they will burn and turn bitter. So just ever so slightly browned will do.
- Add the curry leaves and curry paste in and continue to stir fry in low heat for another 2-3 minutes. Same thing, the spices in the curry powder needs heat in order for the fragrances to be released. But they also burn very easily. So LOW and SLOW please.
- When you start to smell the fragrance and see tiny bubbles sizzling on the curry paste, add in your chicken and boiled potatoes. Increase the heat and stir fry until all the chicken and potatoes are coated with the paste.
- Add enough water to cover about 3/4 of all the items in the frying pan. The thickness of the curry is subjective to personal preference. I like my curry thick, like a stew. Some like it more watery like soup. So add more water if you want.
- Add salt and sugar.
- Bring to boil in high heat. When the curry is bubbling, lower the heat and simmer in medium heat for 15-20minutes.
- Check your seasoning and adjust accordingly. If too salty, add water or sugar.
- Add coconut cream. Mix well and simmer for another 5-10minutes.
- Serve with rice, noodles or bread.
You can see my video for a clearer picture