On Christmas day, while the children are still asleep, I am already up and dealing with the chicken, curry paste, coconut milk and eggs that I bought the day before. I like to buy the ingredients from the wet market and the one nearby has a shop run by an Indian lady who sells the curry powder mix, ground onions, garlic and ginger.
She told me to marinate the chicken by massaging the ginger and garlic paste into the thawed chicken for an hour or so.
Another important thing to do is the cook the curry paste in some oil in a wok to bring out the flavors of the spices. I also realize that if that is not done, then the rawness of the ginger, garlic and onions can still be picked out. Of course the caramelization of the onions will not occur as fully as it should.
So here it is – marinated chicken in the pot. What I had missed here is to fry the paste (portion that wasn’t used in the marinating). So I did that in a separate pan.
The outcome is this. Notice I also added in hard boiled eggs – a tradition handed down from my family. But I wonder where it originated from – lots of people are surprised when they scoop up an egg. Hey, what do you expect from a pot of chicken?
Part I – Ingredients
- Chicken x1 (chopped to smaller parts)
- Curry paste (For meats). Preferably buy from a local wet market (if in Singapore). The paste I buy has the dry curry spices as well as a separate packet of ginger-garlic paste and separate packet of shallot (onion) paste
- I small packet of coconut milk
- Spices – cloves, cinnamon bark, star anise, cardamom
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves
- 5 hard boiled eggs
- 5 Potatoes, peeled. Starchy or waxy are fine – both kinds add a different texture when attacking the potatoes. However the starchy ones tend to break down faster but leave a nice thickness to the gravy.
Part II – method
- Marinate the chicken with half the ginger-garlic paste for like 1 hour before.
- Add some oil and brown the marinated chicken for about 10 mins and remove
- Meantime, heat up some oil and add some whole spices (cloves, cinnamon bark, star anise, cardamom) and fry till fragrant.
- Add in the remaining ginger-garlic paste with the onion paste and add the curry powder. Mix in the wok in a low heat till the fragrant. I think that would be about 5-10 mins.
- Add in the chicken and mix well till the curry covers the chicken well. The chicken at this point would have started to cook and will break apart easily so its time to add in water and the peeled potatoes.
- Add in water till it has a curry-like consistency of your choice. I prefer mine like a gravy.
- Now its time to cover the pot and leave the heat to low. Slow cooking makes the meat more tender – the faster the protein denatures in the high heat will result in a rubber like consistency with rushed curries. Open the pot occasionally to stir the curry. After about an hour of this, the curry is about done.
- Now stir in the salt to taste and finally add coconut milk. I usually add about half of the packet but if you like the curry richer, then add the entire packet. Its all about customizing it to your own taste. Once all these have been done, you can add in the hard boiled eggs and garnish with a generous bunch of coriander leaves. I think the ammonia from the eggs do something nice to the taste.
- Note: The coconut milk should be added in at the end. I add salt at the end as the salt can draw out the water from the chicken at the start and leave it less succulent.
- Coriander leaves top the curry off very well.
- Now you can eat it. Best with rice or for me, the french loaf.
For a more complete recipe from scratch, the page at rasamalaysia.com looks quite authentic. But I think the idea is perhaps to keep this simple and then vary it according to your taste. I remember meeting Otterman halfway up Gunung Belumut with a pack of curry powder and a packet of chicken so that he could cook chicken curry for his friends when they reached the summit and set up camp.
The curry chicken with hard boiled eggs is something of a memory vessel for me – my parents used to lug a huge pot of curry with hard boiled eggs, armed with several large baguettes (french loaves) and a long day of inspecting rock pools would end with some curry by the sea.