Food For Thought

Something that has struck me since moving to Leicestershire is the automatic assumption that if you are going to eat a Curry, then it will be one of Indian origin. Not being a fan of Indian cuisine, I find this a little frustrating! On odd occasions when I have been at a local pub and the visit has coincided with their ‘Curry night’, I have had a quick scan of the menu to see if they may have broadened their horizons to include a Thai red or green curry, but no, Curry means Indian in these parts!

We recently had some friends over for dinner and cooked three Curries, with the origins of one being from Bali, and the other two from Malaysia. During the preparation of these it occurred to me that I could include them in the Stn. So over the next three months we will be including details for each of these curries, and we hope that you enjoy them as much as we do. This months curry will be Chicken Kapitan, with the Beef Rendang and Slow-cooked Pork following in April and May.

I must point out that there is a great deal of preparation required in order to execute these dishes well, you’ll need to set aside an afternoon, and if you have a machine that has a ‘chop’ setting for the shallots then good for you, Otherwise you’ll spend a while chopping them like me! You may also think that some of the ingredients will be hard to track down, but this isn’t the case, everything for these can easily be purchased at the excellent new Sainsbury’s on Melton Road.
Ok, so Chicken Kapitan is a Malaysian dish that basically translates to being the ‘Captains’ curry, which refers to the Chinese official who acted as the go-between between the Chinese and Malay rulers. These amounts will serve 6.

Firstly you should make the Kapitan curry paste, for this you will need……

6 dried red kashmiri chillies, soaked in hot water for 30mins and drained
275g shallots, roughly chopped
2 tsp five-spice powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
25g garlic, roughly chopped
50g peeled fresh ginger
4 fat lemongrass stalks, peel outer and chop inner core roughly
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Simply blend these ingredients into a smooth paste and set aside.
For the remainder you will need……….
1kg skinned and boneless chicken thighs
4 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp vegetable oil
400ml coconut milk
2 x 7.5cm cinnamon sticks
2 tsp palm sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped, to garnish.

Cut the chicken thigh fillets into chunky strips. Heat a large, deep, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat, add the coconut and stir it around for a few minutes until lightly golden. Tip onto a plate and leave to cool, then grind the coconut finely using a pestle.

Return the frying pan to a low heat and add the oil. Add the curry paste that you made earlier and fry gently for 5 minutes, stirring every now and then. Add the chicken strips and fry for 2-3 mins more.

Add the coconut milk, cinnamon sticks, sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 30 minutes until the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Add the lime juice and toasted ground coconut and simmer for 1 more minute. Serve straight away scattered with the chopped coriander.