There is perhaps no dish that is more beloved or more commonly seen in Singaporean homes than some kind of curry chicken. It makes an appearance at every family gathering, every party, and sits comfortably next to ham during Christmas. Every family makes it differently – some go more heavy-handed on the curry powder, some rely on rempah for flavour. Enjoy with baguette or rice. Any leftovers can be thinned out with water to form a broth for noodles.
Singaporean-style Curry Chicken
For the rempah:
10g belacan, toasted
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
1-2 chilli padi if you like spicy food (optional)
140g red onion, peeled and chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, peeled
15g peeled turmeric root
20g dried chillies, soaked in hot water
For the curry:
6 tablespoons oil
1 lemongrass, cut in half and bruised
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
200g coconut cream
750g chicken, assorted parts
350g potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks, soaked in water
1 pandan leaf, knotted
3-5 kaffir lime leaves
Leaves from 3 sprigs of curry plant
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, preferably one for chicken curry
3/4 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Crumble the belacan into a dry pan and sprinkle in the powders. Toast over medium heat until fragrant. Tip into a powerful blender. Add the onions, garlic and turmeric root. Squeeze the dried chillies to get rid of excess water and place on top. Blend to a fine paste.
Place the lemongrass, oil and whole spices in a pot or wok. Cook over gentle heat until the oil begins to sizzle. Gently spoon in the spice paste and fry over medium heat until the paste darkens. Be careful not to burn it or the curry will taste bitter. Add the coconut cream and fry until the mixture appears curdled, and oil begins to ooze from it. Tip in the chicken parts and drained potatoes and toss to coat. Add the kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves, curry powder and water.
Bring to a boil. Add salt and sugar and taste. It should taste 80% seasoned. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes and chicken have cooked through. Season to taste and serve.