We all had a wonderful time in Shanghai and Singapore and hate the feeling of departing our family and friends in Singapore. Although we will be going to Singapore in half a year later, cooking and eating nice Singaporean/Asian food at this moment is always a good option to make us feel better.
To be honest, I have never cook a curry in my life. Although I was born and raised in Singapore, I'm never a big fan of curry in my life. Ironically, moving to Australia has made me realised that curry can be a delicacy and a fantastic Asian dish to showcase to my Aussie friends.
With no Asian cooking experience at all, all I can remember is watching how my grandma cooks. There is no recipes at all written in a book and everything is cooked based on her taste and experience. I remember clearly that my grandma used to buy her curry spice paste from typical Indian spice stores at the wet market. There was heaps and heaps of different curry pastes for us to mix and match and the spice paste that my grandma used is mixed accordingly to her taste and preference. Now that my grandma doesn't cook anymore, I can't seek her advise at all on how to cook a good curry. Thankfully, there are so many recipes available in books and online these days and I'm glad that I found this fantastic recipe at Poh's Kitchen.
Although I'm a Singaporean, I can be easily confused too with so many different versions of curry. I can't really comment if this curry is traditional or not but I really think that this is very delicious. This curry is the richer kind of curry with thick gravy and it is very delicious to eat with freshly made roti. Although it seems like that there is a lot preparation steps involved cooking this dish but I must say it is definitely worth it. And of course, I wouldn't expect my three year old boy to eat this spicy curry but good to know that he was enjoying the roti canai with another non-spicy chicken dish.
|Nonya Chicken Curry served with homemade Roti Canai|
|Toasting the dry spices|
|Chopping the eschallots, turmeric and garlic|
|Not forgetting the chillies...|
|Making the curry paste|
|Fine-tuning the paste for a better texture...|
|More curry ingredients...|
|Cooking the curry paste|
|We are getting there...|
|Finally, here is my delicious Nonya chicken curry.|
|Making the roti|
|My boy loves eating these roti...|
|... and we love eating our roti too dipping with curry gravy.|
Update Aug 2016: Please see this post for better roti canai recipes.
Here's the recipe from Poh's Kitchen
(with my modification in blue)
3 tbsp coriander seeds
(I used ground coriander seeds)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
15 dried chillies, deseeded, soaked in hot water, drained and chopped
270g red eschallots, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
20g belachan, toasted (See Poh's note*)
25g fresh turmeric root
The rest of the curry ingredients
3 tbsp coconut cream
6 - 7 sprigs of curry leaves
4 tbsp veg oil
(reduced to 2 tbsp)
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 kg chicken thigh fillets
(I used a mixture skinless chicken breast and thigh fillets)
300g baby chat potatoes peeled and halved
(I used regular sized potatoes, peeled and quartered)
2 birds eye chillies, de-seeded and halved lengthways
(I didn't add this because I didn't want the curry to be too hot)
400ml coconut milk
1 tbs salt
1 tsp sugar
100ml coconut cream
(I didn't add this as I reckon the texture is rich enough for us)
2 pandan leaves, shredded lengthways and knotted
*Poh's note: Traditionally, belachan is toasted in a wok. The shrimp paste is slowly stir-fried until it turns into a dry crumble, but if you‘re doing this inside your home, you will need to change all the soft furnishings in your home afterwards! So, Poh suggested doing the toasting use a toaster. Simply chop belachan as finely as possible, scatter thinly onto a double layer foil, fold into a tidy flat parcel and press down slightly all over. Toast a few times until the belachan is fragrant , dry and crumbly. For safety reasons, please remember to turn electricity off before retrieving the foil wrapped belachan out of the toaster.
For me, I had my belachan double wrapped in foil and toasted it using our outdoor BBQ... so no worries for any unnecessary electrocution at all!
Update Aug 2016: Please see this post for better roti canai recipes.
makes about 8 - 10 roti
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp condensed milk
2 tbsp margarine, at room temperature
(replaced with very soft butter)
1/2 egg, lightly whisked
(I used rice bran oil for oiling the dough instead)
extra vegetable oil
(I used rice bran oil for its extra "buttery" taste to cook the roti)
To make the curry:
Dry toast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a frypan until fragrant and beginning to smoke. Tip into mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder and grind to a powder. Set aside.
To make the spice paste or rempah you may do it the old fashioned and very effective way or blitz the ingredients in a mini food processor. If you are using the mortar and pestle, start by pounding a small amount of the prepared, dried chillies and adding small handfuls at a time, all the while pounding thoroughly to a fine paste. Continue to add and pound the eschallots, garlic, belachan and turmeric in the same manner until all are a homogenous, fine paste. If using a mini food processor still exercise the same patience and pulverize only small amounts of the ingredients at a time, to achieve a fine paste. (I did mine by using both methods. I processed the ingredients first, then pound the paste into a fine texture.)
Heat vegetable oil in a heavy based saucepan or wok, to a medium heat. Toast star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick for about 20 seconds. Add spice paste and sauté for about 6-10 mins, or until the sauce is very fragrant and the oil is separating from the rempah. Add coconut cream, pandan leaves and curry leaves and keep cooking until very fragrant. You will know when the paste is ready when the oil begins to separate from the mixture and rising to the surface. (As I was using lesser oil for this step, I didn't see any oil separation but I can tell that the paste was ready with lots of its fragrance.)
Add chicken pieces and stir for one minute. Add potatoes, coconut milk, salt and sugar. Cover and simmer until chicken and potatoes are tender. Add coconut cream and birds eye chillies and simmer for a further 5 mins (I didn't add these ingredients). Serve with roti and or steamed jasmine rice.
To make Roti Canai:
Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a well at the centre of the dry ingredients and into it, pour the water, condensed milk, margarine and egg. Work in a circular motion with your hand, gradually gathering more and more of the flour into the wet ingredients until you more or less have a single mass.
Tip all the ingredients onto the bench and knead until smooth and elastic. Roll into a cylinder and divide the dough into ten pieces. Knead each piece a few times to achieve a smooth texture, then shape into a ball. Gently cover each ball with margarine and rest in a bowl alongside but not on top of another. Plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature, overnight.
After the overnight resting you will find the dough soft and stretchy. Start by oiling a substantial area of the bench liberally. (I tried not to use too much oil for this step) Place one of the balls of dough onto the table and press down with the palm of your hand while moving it in a circular motion. This is just to flatten and smooth out the surface of the dough as much as possible before you stretch it. It takes a bit of practice to throw the roti the professional way and while it’s definitely quicker, an equally effective method is to work around the edges of the circle of dough, gently stretching the edges outwards as far and as thinly as you can (so it is like tracing paper and about 60-70 cm in diameter), and before holes start to appear.
Fold one-third of the way in on either side of the circle, so you have three layers of roti on top of each other, then fold this elongated shape into thirds again, so you end up with a squarish shaped roti.
Please note that my dough is not as stretchy as how Poh described. I was able to stretch each dough to 25-30 cm in diameter until holes start to appear and so I didn't proceed to make the roti with the above folding steps.
I was afraid that the dough will go off while leaving it in room temperature overnight and left it in the fridge instead. Although my dough was brought to room temperature before use but I reckon this may be the reason that my doughs wasn't as stretchy as Poh's.
Heat up your frypan on high heat with a dash of vegetable oil and pan fry the roti until golden blisters appear on both sides. When cooked, immediately slide the roti onto a chopping board, wrap you palms around the edges and smash your hands together so the roti bunches up and flakes. Rotate the roti and do this several times while it is still hot. I didn't "smash" my roti at all. Although my roti were not as "flaky" as Poh's. My family and I reckon that they were still delicious enough to eat. Texture-wise, mine were more to the chewy and buttery side.
Serve immediately with curry.
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