Monday, August 4, 2008

Nyonya Curry Chicken

Curry is staple in our household and we have either Indian-style or Thai curry at least once a month. I'm more of an Indian curry aficionado while the boyfriend is partial to the Thai ones. Today I felt a strange longing for home food (and that means Malaysian), and decided to replicate a recipe my grandma used to make. This is a little different from the original as I have change it to a healthier version using soy milk and adding in peas. The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of coconut milk -- coconut fat actually. I don't think I've plodded on the Torture Machine in the gym in 90 degree weather enough to warrant eating coconut fat.

Nyonya (Nee-yon-ya) cuisine is used to describe the culinary dishes from the Chinese descendants of early settlers in the Straits of Malacca. Their lifestyle is meshed with Malay and Portuguese but mainly follows Chinese culture. Most of their food combine both sweet and sour sensations. I'm using fermented shrimp paste granules called 'belacan' which imparts a slight salty and fishy flavour.

Serve with a wedge of lime and basmathi rice. The lime will bring out the flavour of the 'belacan'. You can also garnish with a parsley stem if you're feeling pretentious. Chardonnay or Gewurztraminer goes well with this dish.

*Interesting tidbit: Candlenuts are used to yield that oily surface on the curry without using too much oil
** Cooking tip: If you cut off the end of the onions and leave it at room temperature for about 10 minutes, it will be easier to get the skin off
** Cooking tip: Sugar is used to offset the heat from chilis, if you find this recipe too spicy for you, use less dried chili instead and add 1/4 teaspoon extra of sugar

Nyonya Curry Chicken
Serves 4 (about 225 cals per serving)
Prep. time = 15 mins
Cooking time = 20 mins

8oz. chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes

8 pearl onions (yields about 1 1/4 cup)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp belacan granules (from any Asian market)
2 small candlenuts (yields about 1 tbsp)
8 dried chilis (soaked in hot water until soft, about 20mins)
1 fresh red chili (you can use Serrano or any mild red chili)

1/4 tsp Garam Masala
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp curry powder blend
1 tsp turmeric
1 stalk lemongrass, cut in to 1-inch length and smashed with the back of a knife
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup frozen peas
Salt to taste (I use about 1.5 teaspoons to get a slightly saltier curry)
4 lime wedges

1. Blend all the ingredients for the paste together in a food processor until you get fine consistency (no lumpy bits)
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan (use a wok or a saute pan)
3. Throw the paste in the wok, fry until fragrant for about 5 mins
4. Add in cubed chicken, lemongrass, sugar and salt, curry powder blend and turmeric
5. Fry chicken for about 3 minutes until everything is covered in the curry paste
6. Add in the soy milk, bring to a boil and add in peas
7. Simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked (about 10 mins). You will get a thick curry in hues of shimmering yellow. If the curry dries out too quickly, add an extra 2 tbsp of soy milk.


LI LAINE OOI said...

omg, your curry chciken looks amazingg!!

im about to self invite myself halfway across the world just so you can cook me some! muahaha

Amanda said...

haha didn't you come to states at some point? if you ever do again, feel free to drop by. i can't afford expensive dinners but i can definitely feed you like crazy at home.