Nonya Chicken Curry
I need to eat a curry (with coconut milk) or I'll expire. That was the only thought I had in my mind as I was inhaling and exhaling during my 2nd ever Yoga class. As you can see, being Zen and all only makes me think of food. Ok, almost anything will make me think of food.
Besides last night after the school performance we went as a big group to an Italian restaurant for dinner. Pizza and pasta. Aarrgh. And R's cousin (a beautiful and elegant Indian lady living and working in Singapore) was there with us, enjoying her Italian food and all the more making me want to eat curry. I've not eaten any curry for more than 2 weeks now and that's as bad as not having sex for more than 2 days.
I love Indian, Thai, Indonesian, even Japanese curry. But nothing comforts me more than a good ole Singapore Nonya Curry.
The Singapore or Malaysian Nonya Curry would of course not be as well-known as its Indian or even Indonesian counterpart. For the simple reason that not many Nonyas exist, nor are the people who usually cook and eat them very Peranakan. But I have noticed with interest that among the curries offered to families and staff from the school here in the past few months, Brother C's Malaysian-style curries were often very popular, though the people who liked them may not understand why at all.
So needless to say I have made mine with much love. And memories of my childhood and young adult years in Singapore. Of the curry I grew up with. The pleasure it has always given me. Of where I come from.
A Nonya Curry is usually slightly less spicy than an Indian curry and less chilli hot than a typical Thai curry. Though I probably would with my usual heavy-handedness make it both spicier and hotter than any of those curries.
Singapore Nonya Chicken Curry :
Chicken Filet or skinless thighs
Kaffir Lime Leaves or Zest from a Lime
Nonya Curry Powder (Coriander seeds, Cumin, Red chillies, Peppercorns, Cinnamon, Cloves, Turmeric)
Curry Leaves (optional)
Dried Shrimp Paste (optional)
Tamarind water or Lime juice
Most Malay and Nonya curries require some marinating of the meat beforehand. So marinate the chicken for at least an hour in a paste made of the dry-roasted spices and the shallots, ginger and garlic. Then brown the marinated chicken slices in some oil in the pot, remove and set aside.
And continue like you would when making other curries, returning the chicken to the curry about 10 minutes before you serve so that they would be nicely coated by the sauce.
On my last trip to Singapore, my parents bought me a Roti Jala (Lacy Pancake) mold. I ate my 1st Roti Jala at the school canteen when I was 13. And my last 2 years ago at my dear friend Alwiyah's. I usually eat curry with Basmati rice, but from time to time, I would crave for a Prata or a Roti Jala to go with it and I am happy to be able to make my own Roti Jala from now on.
Roti Jala :
200g plain Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Oil
Prepare the batter as you would a normal crepe and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour before use. Use an oiled crepe pan and with the help of the Roti Jala mould, dribble the batter onto the pan in a circular motion till you get a lacy crepe. Turn over and then start to fold it twice into a triangle.
Was hoping to have some leftover curry for lunch the next day but the Babies kept asking for seconds (and even had it for tea) and it was all gone in no time. Eldest Son had a Swedish schoolmate over and the boy actually ate the pancake with some curried potatoes - a feat as his mother told me before that he usually only eats plain pasta. Some of these kids do not know what they are missing - if I may say so.