No, no more cake, at least not for another few posts. But, I have to tell you, that chocolate pound cake was an absolute dreamboat. A deep tan coloured cake of indescribable chocolatey dampness. I won't unleash the adjectives as yet, but I solemnly swear to share the recipe with you soon. It would be a sin to keep something so good, all to myself.
For today's post, I'll show you how to make the second most loved curry (click here to find out which curry is a fiery numero uno in our house) in my home, Kalio Ayam. It's Indonesian, Padang to be exact and it's as authentic as you can expect an Indonesian curry to be, when taught by an Indonesian born sister-in-law, who was in turn taught by her born and bred Indonesian mother. Unlike many of my favourite dishes, this one is relatively mild, but no less delicious though modestly spiced.
I love this curry ladled over rice and mixed with sambal belacan before being despatched to the depths of my ever hungry belly, but, my mum in law always gently reminds me that belacan has no place in Padang cooking, when she sees saucers of sambal belacan beside the communal bowl of kalio on my dining table. What can I say? I'm Singaporean and I'm Kristang to the marrow in my bones. Give. Me. My. Sambal. Belacan. Of course you can forego the pungently feisty relish and serve it over rice and with a plethora of other delicious sides like prawn crackers, acar and the long and winding list of Padang vegetable or belado (chilli) dishes.
The reason I love this fabulously fragrant curry is that it's devoid of powdered spices. The spice base consists entirely of fresh spices which yields a curry that trips the light fantastic, across your tongue, delighting every tastebud in its wake. No matter how much I partake, and even if my plate of rice is sodden with gravy, I never suffer the discomforts of indigestion later. Sadly this is something all too common when I overindulge in curries which rely heavily on powdered spices.
If you like Thai green curry, you will love this fragrant and light curry. The herbs are a must and give the dish its signature aroma and flavour so do your best to include them all and avoid substitutions if you want a taste of Padang cuisine, as close to the real thing as possible, without having to splurge on an air ticket. Be sure to drown your rice in the gravy, and don't worry, the sambal belacan will be our little secret. What my mum in law doesn't know, won't hurt her ;)
kalio ayam (padang chicken curry)
prep 30 mins cook 40 mins serves 4 - 5
6 fresh red chillies (seeded)
6 shallots, peeled
5 cloves garlic
3 cm (slightly over 1 in) length fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
2 cm length fresh turmeric (kunyit) peeled and sliced
4 candlenuts (buah keras), toasted and bashed
2 stalks lemongrass (serai), trimmed, root end bashed
3 cm length galangal (lengkuas) peeled and bashed until split
1 chicken, thoroughly cleaned, cut into 12 pieces, washed and drained
6 leprous lime leaves (makrut lime/limau perut leaves)
1 large turmeric leaf (daun kunyit), rib discarded, leaf torn into large shreds
3 large fresh Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam)
150 ml (3/4 cup) thick coconut milk
100 ml - 150 ml (1/2 - 3/4 cup) water, depending on the desired gravy consistency
2 small slices tamarind (asam keping/asam gelugor)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/3 tsp sugar (optional)
Combine spice paste ingredients and pound or process (with a small amount of water if necessary) to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Heat about 5 tablespoons vegetable oil and when hot, fry the lemongrass and galangal for about half a minute. Add the spice paste and cook stirring over moderate heat until very fragrant and oil separates from mixture.
Add well drained chicken pieces, lime, turmeric and bay leaves and turn up the heat. Cook, turning and stirring to prevent sticking and scorching, until chicken pieces are coated with spices and lightly browned.
Pour in half the coconut milk and stir until evaporated. Pour in remaining coconut milk and stir again until evaporated. Pour in water, add tamarind slices and stir. Bring to a boil then lower heat, cover partially and simmer until chicken pieces are cooked through and tender. Season to taste with salt and sugar and give curry a good final stir.
Turn off heat and dish out. Serve with white rice.