Sunday, 21 April 2013

Recipe - Kapitan Chicken Curry

I'm quite surprised none of my introductions in the past couple of months have included any references to Masterchef. I'm pleased to see they've returned to something like their earlier format rather than that strange black room which looked like a magician's box. I have to remark that south-east Asian women appear to be healthily represented amongst the quarter finalists. (Women in general still appear to be under-represented though. I don't want to make any generalisations about the cooking abilities of men and women respectively as a result - I don't think there are any which can be made.) But I have a comment on the high proportion of south-east Asian women to have gone through. A couple of them made traditionally south-east Asian food which was lauded as the best thing since sliced bread - I think maybe that's because south Asian food is still a mystery even to John and Gregg. Curry houses in the UK serve things nothing like what you'd see in a Bengali household, despite them being made by Bengalis. That got me thinking about the chef-artist, the amazing one, remember? She was being her usual modest self and said 'nonsense, this isn't that great, it's just that people are unaccustomed to food like this' when talking about her Japanese cookery. (Her Japanese food is like crack. Moreish and delicious. That's what I imagine crack to be like anyway.) She also said that's why she was unimpressed by Edamame - it's just Japanese home cooking. Nothing special. You just don't see it that much in the UK. I think maybe the same thing is going on with south-east Asian flavours. I remember seeing Rick Stein's 'bit' on Saturday Kitchen recently and he was in Bangladesh and he talked about fresh fish curry and how you should ask your local curry house to make you 'mach jhol' because that's what they'd usually eat rather than the gloopy English stuff. What he doesn't realise is that 'mach jhol' means literally 'fish with sauce'. As in, any sauce with any combination of flavours at all. That's the problem with south-east Asian food, I rarely come across names of dishes and one name will encompass any range of different recipes as dishes usually go by the name of the main protein/vegetable. My mother wouldn't consider her chicken that involves fenugreek a different dish to her chicken without fenugreek. But online, a difference of just an ingredient will probably mean a whole new title. Anyway, I'm pleased for these ladies because they're food looks great. But I wonder what I'd think of their food if I tasted it - amazing or pretty good but nothing special? Also, I should add that I KNOW that the ladies I'm referring to also cooked different cuisines from other cultures, my remark is primarily addressed at the fact that John and Gregg went mad for it when they went for the really traditional south-east Asian cooking. And now I'll finally remark that I think I'm getting the hang of Indonesian, Thai and Malaysian flavourings! This curry I cooked was bloody good (if I do say so myself).
Kapitan chicken curry
8 chicken drumsticks
1 tsp turmeric

Sprinkle the drumsticks with turmeric and salt.
Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan and brown the chicken then set aside.

1 onion
6 cloves garlic
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
2 red bird's eye chillies
1 tbsp chopped galangal
1 level teaspoon shrimp paste
3 stalks lemongrass

Blend the above ingredients until smooth.

1 onion, finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
250ml coconut cream
6 line leaves
1 level tsp sugar
Salt and lime juice to taste

Add the spice paste and the extra chopped onion to the saucepan on a medium heat and fry, stirring frequently for about ten minutes until very fragrant and starting to brown.
Return the chicken to the pan along with the coconut cream, lime leaves and sugar.
Bring the pan to a simmer and summer for thirty minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Season with salt and lime juice at the end.

I served this with sticky rice with peas running through it, fresh coriander and another onion, sliced thinly and well caramelised.

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