Dry chicken curry
I am not good with curries, mainly because my parents were very ethnocentric about their Chinese food and the only times I ate curries were at dinners where the food was catered, which means there's bound to be a cheap curry dish, which probably is why I prefer watery 'Chinese' curries. I seldom attempted to cook curries from scratch because all those spices confuse me. Also everybody seemed to cook better curries than me, so I've never bothered with this dish. I've tried using ready-made packaged curry sauce but somehow the curries taste just what they are--packaged curry. Well, now I fret no more because I've found the perfect simple curry recipe (with slight adjustments) that I really like. This recipe is from one of those Periplus Mini Cookbooks called 'Nyonya Favorites'. It doesn't use a lot of spices but yet is full of curry flavor and tastes very 'from scratch'. Definitely a curry I serve with pride.
Now why would anyone want their curry dry? Well, for one it intensifies the flavor of the spices, and the chicken tastes more braised than boiled. But really if you still perfer it with lots of sauce, just add more water or don't reduce the sauce too much:
Chicken curry, lots of sauce
Dry Chicken Curry
1 kg chicken, in large pieces
400g new potatoes, skinned & in large chunks
1X4cm long cinnamon stick, washed
6 cardamons. washed
1/2 cup thick coconut milk (okay to use packet coconut milk)
1 cup water
2 t sugar
1 t salt
2 T veg oil
2 T crispy fried shallots** + extra for garnish
Mix together to make a paste:
2 T chili powder (or more if you want a hotter curry)
2 T ground cumin* (jintan putih)
2 T ground fennel* (jintan manis)
1 t tumeric powder (kunyit powder)
6 to 8 large cloves garlic, minced or pounded
6-7 T water
* I prefer to use whole cumin and fennel--makes more fragrant and thick curry paste--and whiz them in the food processor.
** Slice 4 to 5 shallots thinly and fry in 3 T oil until crisp. You can use the oil to cook the curry, or keep it for tossing noodles.
1. Heat the oil in a pot or pan, add the spice paste (one way to reduce use of oil in cooking curry is to make the spice paste watery-thin so it won't burn quickly) cinnamon stick and cardamons and fry until fragrant in low heat, about 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the chicken, potatoes, coconut milk, water, salt, sugar and 2 T of fried shallots, cover the pot and simmer until the sauce is thick. Do stir the chicken pieces once in a while to prevent them from sticking onto the pot. Add a couple spoonfuls of water if necessary. If you prefer more sauce, add 1/2 cup more water and do not let sauce reduce too much. If you want it dry, remove the cover and turn up the heat to reduce the sauce. Season to taste.
3. Garnish with extra fried shallots and serve with white rice, roti jala or bread.