Wednesday, 13 August 2014

I Got Curried Away!

Have you ever cooked a curry?

No, I don’t mean via a ‘Just-Rip-it-open-Ready-to-Eat’ curry pack from online – We’re talking ‘squeeze-that-grated-coconut’ from scratch version, Mister!

First thing you gotta know is that there are a million Zillion recipes all called ‘Curry’ (and yes, most come with a million zillion ingredients, or so it seemed to newbie me - I dang nearly gave up on the mise en place <-- look! my first fancy words!).

Then came the tidal wave of instructions... zzzzz... I kinda fell asleep... ok, hang on, I’m not finished with the ingredients yet.

Where was I? Oh yeah... so I trooped down to the market to get my first ever pack of the all important item – ‘curry powder’... only to be greeted by (you guessed it!) a million Zillion commercial & homemade ‘this-one-i-guarantee-is-the-best-chin-ho-chiak* choices!

I called my mom. Her instructions were Yelled Loudly to me over the phone (yes, ‘Yelled’ – not becuz she’s pissed that I don’t visit often, I mean, c’mon, how else do you talk in a noisy wet market?). First attempt turned out ok. Much improved now.

ah... before I forget, Important Note:

Best to remove all laundry & pets (like birds) from your kitchen... unless you don’t mind a pungent curry smell in your shorts, towels, socks, etc... for a coupla washes... at least.
I’m not even going to explain the effect on birds.

So here’s the recipe adapted from my sweet mom (her name’s Molly – you can call her Molly; she told me I can’t).

I’ve tweaked it here & there, more or less, whatever... but it’s Good! Don’t be daunted by my daunting instructions, just GO For IT! Let Yourself get CURRIED AWAY!!!

 *'chin ho chiak' means 'very good to eat'

Chicken Curry - Peranakan Style
 serves 3 to 4

Amounts are estimated as best as I can. Pls read ‘Notes’ below.
The Spice Paste is important as it is the unique taste of this curry.

Spice Paste - Blend finely together (I use a hand blender)

5 shallots, peeled 
5 garlic, peeled                                          
1½ cm ginger, cut into strips                                                   
2 tsp dried shrimp paste
10 to 12 dried chillies*, rinsed & cut into short pieces (use kitchen scissors)

Other Ingredients

130 to 150 g Baba’s meat curry powder (add water to form a thick drippy paste)
½ old coconut freshly grated (keep in the fridge till needed)
1 small chicken, cut up
3 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 4
3 or 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
½ cm ginger (cut into thick strips)
4 cm long cinnamon stick, rinsed
8 cloves, rinsed
8 to 10 tbsp oil
Coarse salt, to taste
500 ml plain water
Optional: blended bird’s eye chilli (not for young children)

Make the coconut milk

Using a cloth bag, squeeze the grated coconut for thick milk. Cover & keep in the front of the fridge immediately. Do not throw the squeezed pulp yet.

Dilute it with 400 ml water, and squeeze for thin milk. Set aside in a cool place.

(If you like your gravy thin, dilute the grated coconut with 500ml water and squeeze just once)


Heat the oil in a wok on a medium fire. Stir fry the ginger strips.

When golden brown, add the spice paste. Stir fry 4 to 5 mins.

Add a small ladlespoon of thin coconut milk. It should sizzle. Stir fry 1 min.

Add the curry paste. Stir fry about 3 mins.

Add another ladlespoon of thin coconut milk. Stir fry 1 min. Repeat.

Add the chicken, cinnamon stick and cloves.

Stir and mix thoroughly for about 3 mins.

Add the rest of the thin coconut milk, water, coarse salt (2 tsp).

(Add 1 tsp bird’s eye chilli, if using, for a hotter curry)

Bring to a boil. Taste & adjust water, salt (and chilli).

Remove the chicken when cooked. Set aside.

Lower the heat. Add the potatoes.

Cover and gently boil till potatoes are cooked (10 to 15 mins)

(Before potatoes are cooked, bring out the thick coconut milk)

Uncover the wok and return the chicken to the curry.

Lower the heat till there are no bubbles.

Gently pour & stir in the thick coconut milk, accd. to the thickness you wish.

Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.

Taste and adjust.

Add the hard-boiled eggs.

Serve with white rice, baguette, chapatis, over yellow noodles, udon, pasta

Any leftovers must be kept in the fridge - avoid water dropping into the curry by lining the inside of the pot cover with paper towels.


*Remove half of the dried chilli seeds for less heat. Use gloves (if needed) & kitchen scissors to cut them lengthwise when dry & remove the seeds.

~ You can cook this curry a few days in advance (reheat gently on a low fire). Cool completely & keep in the fridge - avoid water dropping into the curry by lining the inside of the pot cover with paper towels. Boil eggs on the day itself and add them to the heated curry.

~ As this is a strong fragrant dish, I advise that you do not have anything that may be affected by the aroma in the kitchen (e.g. clothes, pet birds).

~ I hope you will enjoy this curry as much as I did when I was growing up (& still do) loving my mother’s cooking! ~


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