We have a popular saying in India “Ghar ki Murgi Dal barabar” which literally translates into “Home grown Chicken is like plain Dal” . It is usually used as a taunt that home made food is not that great. So when the husband made an off handed comment the other day about how the Chicken curry I make at home always tastes the same I was promptly offended and sulked for a few minutes.
I decided that going forward I will never make the same Chicken curry again and the Ghar ki murgi in my house will taste different everytime and yes that is going to be my Chicken mission for the rest of my life as long as I am alive. Lest the husband forgets. So I am always on the look out for great recipes to prove my point.
And when we visited a local Malaysian restaurant “Bull creek Hawker” and ate a very delicious Nonya Chicken curry and saw the husband making happy noises while eating it, I decided I have to make it. It was one of most delicious Chicken curries I had ever eaten and we actually ended up ordering it 3 times as neither of us were able to get enough of it. I wanted to try it instantly and because it was the husbands birthday I did not have to wait longer.
Thankfully the recipe was super easy to make with all the ingredients locally available. I was nervous as I had never made it before and having eaten it with so much gusto at the local restaurant I wanted to ensure it tasted the same and none of the flavors were lost. The recipe involves making of a paste to use a base, which I am sure can be made in advance if one wishes too.
The flavors of this curry are very familiar due to the addition of curry leaves but it still tastes different, almost soft and velvety, with the Chicken falling off the bone. It is traditionally served with soft flaky Roti Canai but I was not going to try my luck with that so I just served it with some Jasmine Rice and boy it was a very delicious birthday treat.
Here is the recipe : Cooking time 40 minutes, serves 6
For the Rempah/Spice Paste
3 Tbs Coriander seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Fennel seeds
15 dried long red chillies*, deseeded*, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained and chopped (I used only 10)
20g Belacan (toasted Shrimp paste)
25g fresh Turmeric root, peeled and sliced (I used 1 tsp Turmeric powder)
3 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
270g red Shallots OR Spanish onion, peeled, sliced
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1) Dry roast the Fennel seeds, Coriander seeds and cumin seeds and grind to a fine dry powder.
2) Add all the ingredients of the spice paste including the dry roast powder and blitz to fine wet paste. Do not be tempted to add water as the Oil is enough. The paste will be thick and fine.
For the Curry
3 Tbs coconut cream
10 sprigs of curry leaves
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 kg chicken thigh fillets
500g baby chat potatoes, peeled, halved and parboiled
2 bird’s eye chillies deseeded and halved lengthways
500ml coconut milk
1 Tbs salt
1 tsp sugar
1) Heat heavy based saucepan or wok, to a medium heat.
2) Add rempah, coconut cream, curry leaves, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick and saute for about 10 minutes. You will know the paste is ready when it thickens, darkens in colour and the oil begins to separate from the mixture.
3) Add chicken pieces and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add potatoes, chillies, coconut milk, salt and sugar. Cover and simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked through.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice or roti canai.