Kari Ayam (Authentic Malaysian Chicken Curry)

Having lived in Malaysia for many years, I’ve grown to love the spices & herbs from this region. Laksa curry, Char kway teow, Kuih, Roti jala & the mighty Nasi lemak. Yummm🤍

One of my favourite comfort foods is rice with kari ayam- slightly spicy & a creamy chicken curry which I always keep going back to. The authentic ones are found in the ‘mamak’ shops, which are the street side eateries selling unpretentious authentic local delicacies.

Now there are few keys to a good chicken curry Malaysian style. For instance,

1. The meat curry powder– Malaysian meat curry powder is a spice blend which includes ground coriander, chili, fennel, cumin, star anise, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf, turmeric, white pepper and black pepper. I always used Baba’s meat curry powder back in Kuala Lumpur & thankfully got few boxes packed with me in Toronto which would last me for a long time. You could make your own blend at home which is super easy, by just following the many videos available on YouTube.
2. Candlenut– this is added to thicken the curry & lend a beautiful texture. You can substitute it with macadamia nuts like I did.


Something about this dish is highly addictive, I can’t really explain what exactly! So for now I’ll leave you with this lovely recipe given to me by my next door makcik (aunty in Malay language)😀

Ingredients:

  • 500 g Boneless chicken thigh, cut into curry style pieces
  • 4 heaped tablespoon Malaysian meat curry powder (recipe easily available on internet)
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 5 Shallots
  • 2½ Inch of fresh ginger
  • 5 Fat cloves of garlic
  • 4 Candlenuts (or 6-7 macadamia nuts)
  • 3 Dried red chilli
  • 1 Large cinnamon piece
  • 4 Cloves
  • 4 Cardamom (green)
  • 1 Star anise
  • 4 Sprigs of curry leaves
  • 3 Medium sized potatoes, halved
  • 1 Lemongrass stalk
  • 300 ml Coconut milk
  • 3 tbsps Olive oil (or any white oil)

Method:

Marinate chicken with 1 tbsp meat curry powder & 1 tbsp light soy sauce. Leave it aside for at least 15-20 mins.

Now for the aromatics, make a paste with the shallots, ginger, garlic, candlenuts, dried red chilies, remaining meat curry powder & little water. Heat 3 tbsps oil in a pot & sauté the whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise & few curry leaves.

Once fragrant, add the spice blend & fry until red & the oil separates. Throw in the marinated chicken & cook well on high heat for at least 5-10 mins.

Now add hot water according to the gravy consistency you want, & let it come to a boil.

Toss in the potato cubes, remaining fresh curry leaves & lemongrass & then lower the heat, simmering for at least 30 mins.

Finally add the coconut milk, salt & sugar (optional) & let it cook for another 5 mins before serving.

Down Memory Lane: Classic Shepherd’s Pie

Truth be told, there’s a lot of debate on the origins of the humble shepherd’s pie- whether it’s Irish or British! There are bits and pieces of history/ folklore surrounding this classic delicacy and there’s no one person or an event that gifted this hearty dish to the world.

Probably somewhere around the early 1800s, peasant housewives in Ireland and northern parts of England came up with the ingenious idea of putting the leftover meat from Sunday roasts to good use by making pies out of them. This clever practice avoided wastages, while families could enjoy something which is not only delicious and new but also filling and inexpensive.

Traditionally, shepherd’s pie uses minced lamb while cottage pie uses minced beef. The ground meat combined with veggies simmered in a rich gravy and topped with creamy mashed potato and grated parmesan results in a dish that is so comforting that it warms your soul.

Feel free to use ground turkey or chicken or even soy meat in case you want alternatives.

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the lamb gravy:

250g ground lamb

1 cup of mixed veggies like chopped celery, carrots and onions

2/3 cup frozen peas

3 fat garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves

1 tbsp dried thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup chicken/ meat stock

2 tbsp Olive oil (or any white oil)

For the mashed potato:

450 gram boiled and mashed potatoes (preferably russet potatoes)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp sour cream

1 tsp dried parsley flakes

1/2 tsp garlic powder

4 tbsp grated parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat olive oil in a pot and sauté the chopped carrot, celery, onions along with minced garlic. Once fragrant, add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Mix everything well.

Now add the ground lamb and throw in some green peas. Stir and let the meat cook until it’s no longer pink.

This is the time to add the worcestershire sauce (key!), tomato puree and the meat/ chicken stock. Cook for a while on medium heat and then cover and let it simmer nicely on low heat until the sauce thickens. Take off the heat once done.

Meanwhile, chop and boil the large potatoes and mash them with a fork. Mix in butter, sour cream, dried parsley, salt and pepper.

To assemble the dish, layer the cooked meat in a baking dish and top it with the mashed potato. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 mins at 200 degree C. Broil for another 3-4 mins for that beautiful golden colour on top 🙂

Wishing you all a merry Christmas & happy holidays!