I've been craving curry for ages now. Not Indian curry, not curry from the Chinese takeaway but the coconut milk based curry of home with big pieces of chicken on the bone and chunks of potato. I daydreamed about this dish for about two weeks before I got round to making it myself. I wasn't too keen on playing around with spices (spices make my head spin - never quite sure what goes with what) but after rummaging through my horde of bits and bobs in the pantry (yes, I have one of those thanks to my 1940s -1950s build flat) I found a packet of spice mix - Asian Home Gourmet's Indonesian Rendang Curry Gulai. It was given to me by a very thoughtful ex-colleague to try ages ago. I know rendang (a dry curry made usually with beef that has been slowly simmered in coconut milk and spices) and chicken curry are two very different dishes but what the heck... I was getting desperate here! It had roughly the same ingredients that I was looking for - chillies, shallots, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric, cumin - amongst other things. So into my wok it went :)
Putting it all together:
- Clean and cut up a whole chicken into roughly equal size pieces. Set aside.
- In a wok or a large pan (with a cover), heat up about 2 -3 tablespoons of oil on a medium heat. This is mainly to ensure that my spices don't stick to the wok. Add in the curry paste and (this is where I cheated again) 3 heaped tablespoons of shop bought mild curry powder. Fry the spices until fragrant but not burnt.
- I added in an extra cinnamon stick, about 3 star anise, 2 bashed up sticks of lemongrass, about 5 lime leaves, a large teaspoon or two of turmeric powder and few teaspoons of mild chili powder.. There is really no need to add these extra bits but I like to fool myself into thinking that this was really home made :) Plus I like the fusion of flavours anyway - India meets Thailand - reminds me of home.
- Add the chicken to the pan and coat the meat with the spice mixture. When it is well coated, add in about 400 - 500ml of coconut milk. I used the tinned stuff because it's almost impossible to trek down fresh coconut milk here and I don't even want to imagine the price I would have to pay! If you want a thicker, richer curry, use coconut cream instead.
- Cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes on a simmer. Half way through, add peeled and cut up potatoes. Don't cut the potatoes too small or it will melt into the sauce but you don't want them bigger than your pieces of chicken either.
- Serve with steamed rice. Also rather good with some freshly cooked floppy, soft hor fun.
Heaven! After dreaming about it for about two weeks, it didn't disappoint. Yes, I know I cheated ...I could have even walked 10 minutes to Chinatown during the week when I was at work to pick up a proper chicken curry spice mix (actually...why didn't I??) but now a little more confidant, I'm going to make a proper rendang from scratch! How exciting :D