Friday, June 14, 2013

Vanessa's Amazing Chicken Curry (by way of Singapore)

la belle vanessa (un peu blurry)

My cousin Vanessa (by marriage) is impossibly beautiful, with wide, almond-shaped eyes and curly brown hair and a permanent lazy half-smile on her face. Everything she does seems effortless. Until two days ago, I had no idea that she had serious culinary talents. The little light she'd been hiding under a bushel was this curry (only one element of her hidden repertoire) -- inspired by her fiance who grew up in Singapore -- a fantastic, if not a little complicated, chicken and potato curry, which she served with plain Jasmine rice, stir-fried beansprouts and tiny, warm papadams. This is quite literally one of the best curries I've ever tasted.

But the coolest thing is her garden: a whole rooftop of raised beds filled with tomatoes, cilantro, kefir lime leaves, curry leaves, parsley, onions, scallions, peas, thyme. (You have to climb through a window from a little ladder to get onto the roof, not the easiest thing to do in high heels, to be honest). It's heaven.

the island of singapore

curry leaves

authentic small papadams

Indian Chicken Curry
Serves 8-10


6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, washed and dried and cut into 1-2” pieces
3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, washed and dried and cut into 1-2” pieces
5 potatoes (of your choice, if they are smaller sized, up the quantity), peeled and cut into LARGE pieces (if you’re using small potatoes, leave them whole. if you cut too small they will breakdown and overtake the curry, and turn it into curry mashed potatoes)
2.5 cups coconut milk
Vegetable oil

25 shallots (small Asian shallots, if you are using US gigantic shallots, 1 is usually equal to about 3-4 Asian, so you’ll only need about 8)- sliced thin
8 cloves of garlic -- sliced thin
1 tbspn mixed curry seeds (available at Asian or Indian markets)
10 stems of curry leaves (these aren’t easy to find… call around Asian markets to see if they have them… or stop by my house to pick them from my tree!) -- washed, leaves removed from stems (**note: curry leaves aren't the same as kefir lime leaves, they're smaller and thinner and the flavor is different)
15 med size red chilies (in Asian markets they are usually called ‘red jalapenos’, in American markets they are usually called ‘fresno peppers’) --  seeds removed, ground into paste in blender

2 tspn tumeric powder
6 tbspn meat curry powder (available in Asian or Indian markets)
2 tbspn paprika
… mix all together with enough water to make a sauce-consistency

2 tbspn cumin powder
1 tbspn mixed curry seeds
… mix together

Heat oil in a large pot and fry the A ingredients… beginning with the shallots, garlic, and seeds, then adding the leaves, and when the shallots start to soften, add the chili paste.  Continue frying for about 5 minutes, then add mixture B, and fry for another 5 minutes.  Add chicken, stir for a few minutes, then add the coconut milk and C mixture.
Lower the heat and cover the pot.  Leave for about 10 minutes, then add in the potatoes and re-cover the pot.  Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are fully cooked.

Serve with plain jasmine rice, papadams, spicy citrus soy (recipe below) and an Asian vegetable of your choice!

Spicy Citrus Soy
Soy Sauce
Thai Chillies

In a small bowl, fill 1/2 way with soy sauce, 1/2 way with fresh squeezed lime juice, and add diced chilies (the tiny red and green ones are best for this).

the beautiful moshay girls at minky's graduation party

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Interesting recipe and technique.

What are "curry seeds"? Is this a specific seed, e.g. the seeds from the curry leaf plant, or a mixture of spices? I have never heard of cooking with curry leaf plant seeds, though I use the leaves a lot in my cooking.

Also, do you mean kaffir lime leaves, as kefir is a fermented dairy product and has no leaves?