May 19, 2012

Satay Chicken Curry

Malaysian Satay Chicken curry with rice and SPICES
In the Malaysian spirit of mixing flavors in the kitchen, I thought I would add an extra punch to my chicken curry by combining it with ingredients like peanuts and lemongrass from my favorite dipping sauce - the irresistible satay sauce.

But I know that making curry sounds daunting. And some may even argue that it requires some level of artistry to make a good pot of curry, but trust me, making curry is about practice until you find the right balance of flavours that suit your taste.

Not many of us have the time to make curry entirely from scratch, so I would recommend starting with a good quality ready-made curry powder. You can still make an unbeatable curry this way by adding in a few extra flavours.
Malaysian curry powder and fresh spices
To begin, you want to use a curry powder that will at least take care of the basic. For meat curry, look for a curry powder mix that includes some spices such as red chili, turmeric, cloves, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, star anise, fennel seeds, and cardamom.

And to make up for the missing aroma and character of whole spices, just throw in a few whole spices with the pre-ground curry powder. It's as easy as that, and you're already halfway there.
fresh herbs and spices for satay chicken curry
To give the curry depth and sharpness, add in fresh spices - lemongrass, galangal or ginger or fresh turmeric root, curry leaves, fresh red chili - and shallots and garlic.

As an advocate of the mortar and pestle (a food processor generates too much heat and will cause fresh ingredients to oxidize quickly and turn brown), I encourage you to pound all the fresh ingredients, to extract all the oils and flavours, until they merge together into a paste.
mortar and pestle
Finally, add in roasted chopped peanuts to create another layer of flavour, and crunch, to the existing creamy, rich, fiery and aromatic curry.
ground peanuts for satay sauce
Serve this nutty fragrant satay chicken curry piping hot with rice or crusty bread, and enjoy just about every Malaysian flavor in one dish.
satay curry chicken Malaysia
Satay Chicken Curry
Serve 2 - 3 persons

What you'll need:
Half a chicken, cut into serving sizes
4 tomatoes, quartered
2 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup oil
3 stalks fresh curry leaves
1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely ground. Keep some in bigger chunks for crunch.
1 cup / 200 ml coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tbsp soy sauce 
1 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar to taste
dash of salt to taste
a squeeze of lime juice

*Whole spices (1/2 teaspoon of each):
Cumin seeds
Mustard seeds
Coriander seeds
Fennel seeds

Ground Paste:
4 cloves garlic
3 shallots
2 lemon grass (white parts only)
1 inch ginger or galangal
1 fresh red chili, seeded (optional - for that extra spiciness)

1. Using mortar & pestle, or food processor, grind garlic, shallots, lemon grass, ginger/galangal and red chili into a paste.
2. In a bowl, add water to mix the curry powder into a thick paste.
3. Heat oil in a wok on high, add the whole spices and fry for about 10 seconds. The spices will jump and pop in the wok, so keep them moving with your spatula to prevent them from burning. Turn the heat off.
4. Add in the ground paste and curry leaves. Stir fry on low-medium fire until translucent.
5. Add sugar, soy sauce, peanuts, curry powder paste and stir thoroughly. Simmer on low heat until a thin layer of oil rises. Be careful not to burn the paste.
6. Add chicken, and bring the heat up to medium-high. Add water and stir to coat the chicken.
7. Stir in coconut milk and mix well. Season with salt and a squeeze of lime. Gradually bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, stir occasionally and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer for another 20 - 25 minutes until the curry sauce is smooth and chicken is cooked and tender. 

1. If you don’t have all the whole spices in the pantry, you can use solely cumin seeds or mustard seeds to enhance the flavour.
2. You can replace the peanuts with cashews. The sauce will still have the satay flavour, but a milder nut taste.

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