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Yellow Chicken Curry

Over the last few months, I've been having the oddest craving for yellow chicken curry. Specifically, the cheap, heavily watered down kind they sell with roti jala and murtabak during Ramadan in the tiny plastic bags where one is lucky to receive a pea-sized cube of potato. My version of the curry is high on the coconut milk and dramatically more generous with the ingredients, because hey, I have to eat something.

Yellow Chicken Curry (Malay Style)

1 chicken breast (sliced thinly)
3 large potatoes (cubed)
2 medium tomatoes (cubed)
1/2 - 1 cup water
1/2 - 1 cup coconut milk
salt to taste

Curry Paste

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh young ginger
1 inch fresh galangal (optional)
1 stick fresh lemongrass (optional)
5 leaves Vietnamese/laksa mint or 1 handful common mint
5 chillies (de-seeded)
1 tsp belacan powder* (optional)
1/4 cube ikan bilis (anchovy) soup cube or 1/2 tsp ikan bilis (anchovy) powder** (optional)
1 tsp mild yellow curry powder***
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup tamarind juice from reconstituted paste (seeds removed), lime juice or lemon juice

Makes 1 standard soup pot of curry.

1. Marinade the chicken slices in the salt, preferably overnight. This is an optional step, but I always find that the meat tastes better. You can also avoid adding salt while cooking by doing this.
2. Blend all the ingredients for the curry paste except the powders and the juice to a fine paste.
3. Fry the curry paste and the powders together in a little oil (preferably in a soup pot) until it releases its scent.
4. Add the chicken, potato and tomatoes to the paste. Leave to brown.
5. Add the juice and water. Allow the pot to stew for 5 minutes.
6. Turn down the heat to a very low simmer. Add the coconut milk. Stir well. Never add the coconut milk while the sauce is boiling, as this will cause the coconut oil to separate from the milk and make the gravy greasy. Find a ratio of coconut milk and water (ie. a consistency) that works for you. If you're unable to use coconut milk, dairy milk can be used as a substitute.
7. Serve hot with steamed rice or bread.

* Belacan refers to spiced and fermented shrimp paste which is usually dried and sold in blocks. A popular modern variant is to sell belacan in granulated or powdered form, which makes using it a lot easier. It's potent stuff, with a strong smell. If you're planning to fy anything with this inside, run your kitchen fans and open all your windows. Malay food uses it in almost everything.

** Ikan bilis or anchovies are popularly sold dried in Southeast Asia to be used as a flavouring in many stir fried dishes or as a base in soups. Anchovy stock cubes or granules (as well as belacan) can easily be found in a good Asian food store that sells Southeast Asian products.

*** I like using Waugh's Curry Powder, if you can get it. This is an English curry powder with a trademark of two crossed rifles. It has a mild, rounded flavour that lends itself well to a variety of different dishes. Adabi's Chicken and Meat Curry Powder (popular Malaysian brand) is also very good. I have tried at least one South African Malay curry powder, and this also worked well. A good curry powder is in the taster though. Find a mild, yellow curry powder that does not smell too heavily of cumin or cloves, as either of these ingredients can really overpower the dish.

**** The lemongrass and galangal are optional only because I've found they're a bit hard to get in some places. The curry can survive without them, as many curry powders will already have some galangal in it. Lemongrass just adds a slight zesty flavour to the proceedings, which the juice covers just fine.

Curry Laksa (Variant)

What to do with the leftover curry.

1 cup yellow noodles or rice noodles (vermicelli or udon)
1/2 hardboiled egg
1 handful shredded cooked chicken meat
1 handful bean sprouts
1 handful cucumber (deseeded and julienned)
1 handful puffy or firm tofu (cubed)
A few slices of fish cake (optional)
1 sprig mint (garnish)

1. Make the yellow curry above, but strain out most of the meat, potato and tomatoes and we'll call it a "dry curry".
2. Boil your noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
3. Arrange the noodles and all the ingredients in a deep bowl.
4. Submerge the ingredients in curry. Serve hot.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)

I. Am. Drooling!

Thanks so much for posting this, sweetheart. It sounds amazing and I must try making one or both.
Mar. 30th, 2007 05:35 am (UTC)
I too am at work and starving. *starves* I'd love to know how the testing goes on your part! :)
Mar. 30th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)

I'll ask The Frenchman about where I can obtain some of these ingredients around here. It can be done, I'm certain! I think as soon as I'm done with this first draft (probably in another week), I'm making this as my reward. :D
Mar. 31st, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)
Nothing like a reward you can cook yourself! :)
Mar. 29th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
I love most anything with coconut milk. This looks yummy, I'll have to try it out sometime!
Mar. 30th, 2007 05:31 am (UTC)
I deliberately add more coconut milk to get the nice creamy richness. I usually down the whole soup pot within a day! :)
Mar. 29th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)
Foooodporn! :D

Coconut milk is the devils work...

I have never seen galangal for sale, but now I am going to look for it, my taste buds need to try it :) We can get lemongrass in a jar... :/
Mar. 30th, 2007 05:30 am (UTC)
Lemongrass in a jar is still cool. Some places sell it frozen. We grow the stuff in our garden, if I weren't too scared of cutting it before it grows. Galangal is also available in powdered form, which should be more common. Places with high curry-eating populations, and the whole British Isles counts as such a location, should have find curry powders and spices. *nodnod*
Mar. 29th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
well. lunch, i think.
Mar. 30th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm getting growly.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )