Here is a picture of the nonya/peranakan lemon curry chicken which I cooked nearly 2 weeks ago. I have been too busy to post it until now. This dish was loosely adapted from Mrs Leong Yee Soo's recipe and was as delicious as the Ayam Kleo which I made in April. Btw, believe it or not, I am still using the same pack of lemongrass which I kept in the fridge since April. The lemongrass stalks have dried out a bit but I believe I can still put them to good use. :)
This dish is similar to Ayam Kleo in the sense that it used almost the same key ingredients such as candlenuts (also known as buah keras), lemongrass and tamarind juice. The only difference being, the Ayam Kleo dish was first grilled in the oven and then cooked and simmered on the stove together with the gravy, whereas this lemon curry chicken did not require grilling, you first had to fry the chilli paste and then cook and simmer the chicken, just like a normal curry dish. And of course, the star ingredient here is freshly squeezed lemon juice which gave this dish a lemony tangy taste (from the lemon and lemongrass) and a rich nutty taste (from the candlenuts). Very delicious dish indeed.
The preparation method was not that complicated either, I had already simplified it by using canned coconut milk, as the original recipe was quite detailed, and talked about squeezing fresh grated coconut for No. 1 coconut milk, and adding water and squeezing again for No. 2 coconut milk.
Recipe loosely adapted from Mrs Leong Yee Soo's The Best of Singapore Cooking
6 shallots, chopped finely
3 candlenuts, chopped finely
2 stalks of lemongrass, cut into thin rings
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp lemon juice (squeezed from half a lemon)
1 tbsp tamarind juice (from bottle)
600g chicken, chopped into small pieces
1 can of 400ml coconut milk (you will use between 300ml-400ml depending on how thick you want the gravy to be)
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp chilli paste *
1 stalk of lemongrass, bashed
* I first used 1 tbsp of ABC brand extra hot chilli sauce and 1 tbsp of thai garlic chilli sauce. Towards the end, I found it not spicy enough after adding more coconut milk, so I added 1 more tbsp of the extra hot chilli sauce. But even then, it was still okay for my 3 year old boy who gobbled up all the rice with the curry with no problems.
1. Grind Ingredients A to a fine paste using a food blender or simply using mortar and pestle. (Note it will be easier if you chop the ingredients finely before putting them into the blender especially for the lemongrass which is quite hard.)
2. Mix about 100ml of coconut milk with Ingredients B and marinate for 30 min.
3. Heat up oil in a wok. When the wok is very hot, add in the 2 tbsp of chilli paste to stir-fry, quickly lower the heat and fry it until the oil starts bubbling through. Add another 100ml of coconut milk, stir-fry for 1 min. Then add paste A and 1 stalk of bashed lemongrass. Mix and fry the ingredients till fragrant.
4. Add the marinated chicken and Ingredients C, stir fry until the chicken is cooked. Then add the remaining 200 ml of coconut milk and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer in covered pan till the chicken turns tender (about 1/2 to 3/4 hour).
6. The original recipe did not include potatoes and carrots. But I added 2 chopped potatoes and 2 chopped carrots as I like to cook my curry with vegetables. Adding potatoes also has the added benefit of thickening the gravy since potatoes are full of starch and starch is actually a form of soup/gravy thickener. However if your gravy is already too thick and not enough to cover all the ingredients, then you need to add extra coconut milk/water, as there has to be enough liquid to simmer and cook the chicken.