My fondest memory of my time in Malaysia often includes food. It was the first time I left home, and the only thing I could properly cook was some instant noodles!
I was thinking of learning to cook, but my Mom, who has always been great at budgeting, did a quick calculation and pointedly said that eating out every day was cheaper. So I went on a happy eating adventure for one and a half years. ;)
I end up with a big love for Malaysian food, and if curries are a food group, that would be my all-time favorite. There are a dizzying array of curries to choose from, from Chinese style to Malay and Indian curries. One of my favorites is this Chicken Curry Kapitan.
Like Indonesian dishes, it is also very typical for Malaysian dishes to have a long list of spices in the recipe.
For this dish, we will need bone-in chicken, potatoes, garlic, shallot, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, dried red chilies, coconut milk, fish sauce, turmeric, salt, sugar, and lime juice.
You can use a whole chicken, cut up into 8-12 pieces. I usually either go with 10-12 chicken drumsticks or 4-5 chicken quarters separated into thighs and drumsticks.
Please choose potatoes that are suitable for braising since they don’t fall apart and turn into mush. Waxy potatoes/boiling potatoes, such as red potatoes, new potatoes, fingerlings, and Yukon Gold, are all great choices. Avoid Russet potatoes for stewing/braising purposes.
1. Grind spice paste
Use a food processor/blender to grind chilies, shallot, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, candlenuts, and water into a smooth spice paste.
2. Fry spice paste
Heat spice paste and turmeric over medium heat in a wok until slightly dry. Add cooking oil and mix well. Cook until the oil starts to separate from the spice.
3. Add chicken
Add chicken into the wok and stir. Add kaffir lime leaves and water, mix well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the remaining ingredients
Stir in coconut milk into the wok. Add potatoes, and season with salt, sugar, and fish sauce. Continue simmering for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and become thick.
5. Add lime juice and serve
Add lime juice, stir and cook for another minute. Adjust the seasonings if needed. Turn off the heat, transfer the dish to a serving bowl, and serve immediately.
Since this is a Malaysian dish, you can eat this chicken curry Kapitan with steamed white rice or your favorite roti or naan bread. The sauce is to die for, so mop up every single last drop and lick the plate clean.
Like most curries, the flavor improves with age, so if you have the patience to wait for a day or two before serving the curry, you will end up with a more flavorful dish.
I usually store the dish in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat it as necessary in a microwave for about 1 minute.