I’m on a curry-making kick, and this one came about mostly because I wanted to finish up some ingredients in my fridge, but also because I wanted to use the kat pura valli leaves in my balcony garden.
The result? Magic!
Inspiration for this includes: The butter-onion-chilli recipe that’s part of the paternal family arsenal, previous experience cooking curry with kat pura valli leaves, and also I thought pandanus leaves would be lovely in curries (a mild suspicion that this is what makes some of the curries I’ve enjoyed in Penang that magical). Also how easy it is to make. Dudes, I’ve been making chicken curry since I was a kid, I could probably make it while sleepwalking. I’ve already made chicken curry twice in the past two weeks and suspect I will be making some more once this batch finishes.
- 23 oz chicken breasts (deskinned, deboned, chopped into chunks)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 red shallots, chopped
- ginger (3-4 slices) and garlic (3 cloves) minced together to make a paste
- 2 green chillis, chopped up slant-wise.
- Spices: spice mix (fenugreek, jeera/cumin, black mustard), 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cloves, 1 1/2 star anise, 5-6 cardamom pods, 2 dried chillis broken into chunks.
- McCormick’s garlic flakes, chilli flakes and sea salt grinder (a few dashes to taste)
- Pepper to taste.
- Kat pura valli leaves (Karpuravalli/borage), about 1 tablespoon, chopped. (fresh oregano a good substitute)
- Curry leaves, about 15 leaves stripped from stem.
- 1 large-ish potato chopped into chunks.
- Emborg whipping cream. (About 1/3 a carton — those small square cartons!)
- Extra light olive oil 1.5 tablespoons.
- Alagappa meat curry powder to taste. (I used about 2 tablespoons or so, I think)
- Maggi seasoning. (1-2 dashes, optional)
- Amchur. (mango powder, a couple of pinches)
- The juice of 2-3 wedges of key lime.
- Tomatoes. (I used 18 cherry tomatoes because my students gave me two cartons)
- Pandanus leaf. (take 2, shred from the base and tie into a bundle)
- Wash and chop the chicken, marinade with the juice of two key lime wedges, salt, pepper (I used McCormick’s garlic flakes, chilli flakes and sea salt grinder), kat pura valli leaves, about a tablespoon of curry powder, and the whipping cream. Mix it with your hands, you’ve got to get down and dirty with the marinade to make sure it’s awesome.
- Prep the other ingredients while the chicken is happily marinating for an hour.
- Heat the wok or pan with the olive oil. Gently add the spices. When they start to “pop”, add the onions and gently caramelize them. Once they’re approaching the stage of caramelizing, add the ginger garlic paste and half of the curry leaves.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of curry powder. Stir everything gently till it reaches a nice paste-like consistency. Add some water and scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Add the chicken and stir it around so the curry powder on the chicken mixes with the paste in the pan. Add green chillis and tomatoes at this point, stirring gently.
- Add water, potatoes and the pandanus leaf.
- Let it simmer for awhile before adding the amchur, maggi seasoning, and the rest of the seasonings. Don’t be afraid to taste to ensure it’s where you want it to be!
- Simmer gently for about an hour, stirring at intervals. You can let the gravy reduce down or add water if you want more gravy. This curry is beautiful once the oil “breaks” or what is known in Malay as “pecah minyak”, and the fragrance fills the entire kitchen.
- Towards the end, add the rest of the curry leaves and squeeze one more wedge of lime if you think it needs more sourness (if not necessary, omit. The lime in the marinade and in the amchur may be enough).
This was extremely yummy, and I ate it with jasmine rice and stir-fried cabbage. It would be great with pilau rice and a light vegetable salad as well. Makes 4 servings of about 355 calories each, but since I didn’t grind the spices, I didn’t count them in. Do your own calculations to be safe 😉