Saturday, 7 December 2013

Malaysian Chicken Curry

I was 19. And it was my first trip abroad. And talking of a cherry on the cake – I was going to travel with a friend, no cautious father, no nagging mother nor a petulant, almost-teenager brother. Of course, we tried to overlook the fact that my friend’s father was travelling with us. We had worked out a plan around this tiny glitch. The destination was South East Asia – of course you already guessed that.
Now my friend was not really interested in food. She was weaving her dreams around designer shops and nightclubs but I was drooling, even in my sleep thinking about all the amazing street food I would wolf down in Bangkok, of Malaysian curries and Singaporean noodles. 

However, Bengalis irrespective of the fact that they are famous for their fabled wander lust, have a tendency to look for their aloo-posto bhaat and machher jhol no matter where they go. Not all of them, but most of them.  And I don’t mean to demean any community; in fact I hear it is a pan-Indian problem, every community has their fare share of such people. No offense meant. For me, it would be a nightmare, no matter how much I love; in fact I am obsessed with it, aloo posto. Anyway, so we were travelling with a tour company who took no chance when it came to food. So in Bangkok we were served chicken tikka and butter paneer, everyday, while in Singapore we ate at a Bangladeshi restaurant and in Malaysia, a South Indian restaurant. They made sure we remained connected to our culinary roots, much to my dismay.
My brother, the same petulant guy I mentioned early, only he is older now. And grouchier, I think, went to Bangkok recently and came back with foodie-tales that had me slobbering and drooling all the while. I cursed my  stars at the thought of my trip to the South East. So I have been pondering over the idea of cooking something Asian and finally got myself to try this Malaysian Chicken Curry.
I usually do not cook Asian food except the occasional Chinese, but to say, I officially turned a fan of cooking Asian food. I already loved eating it of course. The smell of lemon grass and Kaffir lime leaves, the creamy coconut milk and the spices, it is so satisfying! 

And the meal that followed this evening, was even more satisfying. A slavoursome curry, but so light on the palette. Do try it. 


  • 1 tbs peanut oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 2 brown onions, cut into wedges
  • 8 (about 800g) chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock
  • 2 tsp grated palm sugar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • Finely shredded kaffir lime leaves, to serve.

Curry paste

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 long fresh red chillies, seeded, finely chopped (seeds optional)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 purple Asian shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) peanut oil (or vegetable oil)

  1. Place all curry paste ingredients in a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Step 2 Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add chicken, lime leaves, cinnamon, star anise, coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until sauce thickens and chicken is tender. Remove from heat. Add palm sugar and fish sauce; stir to combine. Taste and season with sugar and fish sauce.
  3. Step 3 Spoon among serving bowls. Top with lime leaves and serve with rice, if desired.

Recipe courtesy Sarah Hobbs
Thanks Sarah, wherever you are for such an awesome recipe.

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