Sunday, 8 December 2013

Devil's Curry

God only knows how I came across this one: I suspect I just stumbled upon it, perhaps on Rasa Malaysia’s excellent site but really I don’t know.

As is probably fairly obvious Devil’s Curry (also known as Curry Debal) is very spicy. It seems that it descends from the from the Eurasian communities of Malacca (Malaysia) and Singapore: probably Portuguese. Certainly it has, to my mind at least, similarities with that other Portuguese Eurasian dish Vindaloo. Often made at Christmas or other special occasions it is, as I say, a fiery dish enriched with candlenuts (or Macadamia's if you can't get them) and galangal (or ginger if galangal is not available) and then sharpened with vinegar.

As with many curries, stews and casseroles the flavours develop and become richer the next day. And perhaps this was my problem, I was so looking forward to this but ultimately I was underwhelmed: the combined flavours here should lead to something complex and tantalizing to the taste buds but I was just a little disappointed (my other dining companions weren’t, apparently, so it may have just been me). I will try it again though and next time I will leave it a day and see how I find it the next. I suggest you do the same.

Devil’s Curry
Serves 2

1 ½ tbsp groundnut oil
½ tbsp mustard seeds
500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into pieces
250g potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
100ml water
salt and palm sugar to taste
¾ tbsps tamarind concentrate dissolved in 100ml water
1 tbsp white vinegar
For the Spice Paste
10-15 dried chilies, deseeded and soaked in water for 20-30 minutes
1 large banana shallot, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), thinly sliced
0.5 x 1.5 inch piece ginger, minced
⅛ tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp water
4 candlenuts, chopped
½ tsp shrimp paste

In a spice grinder whizz up all the ingredients for the spice paste until smooth (you may have to do this in 2 batches). Set aside.

In a large heavy-based sauté pan heat up the oil and when it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Cook until they start to pop then add the spice paste into the oil and fry until aromatic - about 10-15 minutes.

Add the chicken and stir around to coat with the spice paste. Let it cook for about 8-10 minutes and then add the potatoes, stirring to combine.

Pour in the water to barely cover the meat and potatoes.

Stir well and then bring to a boil before reducing back down to a simmer: cover with a lid and leave for 20-30 minutes or until until the potatoes are soft and the chicken cooked through.

Adjust the seasoning with a little salt and palm sugar as necessary and then add the tamarind juice and white vinegar. Stir to mix then serve immediately with plain basmati rice and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

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