Coconut Milk Chicken Curry (Gulai Ayam)

Coconut Milk Chicken Curry (Gulai Ayam)

Penang, Malaysia (Nyonya)

900 g Chicken pieces; OR 675 g Chicken, boneless
1 tb Oil
2 Lemon grass stalks; I subbed 1/2 ts Lemon grass, powdered
8 oz Coconut milk
1 c Water
2 ts Salt
6 oz Coconut milk

REMPEH (Curry Paste):

4 Chiles, red; dried; I subbed 1 ts Chile paste
1 Cinnamon stick; 2", I subbed 1/2 ts Cinnamon, ground
4 Cloves; I substituted 2 ds Cloves, ground
2 tb Coriander seed; I subbed 1/2 tb Coriander, ground
1 tb Cumin seed; I substituted 1/4 tb Cumin, ground
1 ts Fennel seed
1/2 ts Turmeric
225 g Shallots; peeled
1 Ginger, fresh; 1" piece: but 1/2 ts Ginger, ground is what Iused
2 lg Garlic cloves, crushed
5 Macadamia nuts, or candlenuts

450 g Okra

Soak chiles in warm water 10-15 minutes. Peel and finely chop ginger. Drain chiles and remove hard stems. Remove skin from chicken. Rinse chicken and chop with heavy cleaver into roughly 2" chunks. Cut lemon grass into 2" lengths and flatten with side of heavy knife.

In small heavy skillet, dry-roast cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, and fennel over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and pound until very fine, using mortar and pestle, or grind very fine in spice mill. Add turmeric and set aside. Grind drained chiles, shallots, ginger, garlic, and nuts to paste in food processor.

Heat oil in large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chile paste and fry 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add dried spice mixture and fry another minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken pieces and turn until chicken is well coated with curry paste. Add lemon grass, then add coconut milk and water. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer over medium heat until chicken is tender, approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Boneless chicken will cook in about 30 minutes.)

Add salt and remaining coconut milk and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve hot with Lacy Coconut Milk Pancakes and sliced cucumbers.`

Alternatives: Gulai ayam is occasionally made with the addition of potatoes or okra. Potatoes are cut into 1/2" cubes; okra are left whole. Add with coconut milk and water.

Sylvia's comments: I'm a lazy American, I couldn't see the point of using whole spices if I was just going to have to grind them. I replaced them with the indicated amounts of ground spices. Warning: roasting cinnamon produces very aromatic oils! The back of my throat reacted quite strongly. I substituted blanched almonds for the macadamias, which I didn't have. Something produced a bitter taste that I did not care for. I cut the water in half and would suggest skipping it completely unless you want a curry soup. Boneless chicken doesn't take anywhere NEAR 30 minutes! This had a lovely color and the sauce was great to dip the coconut milk pancakes or other bread into. I'd like to get rid of that bitter flavor and increase the chile paste next time, it was still a bit bland but the coconut milk taste completely disappeared. It also required too much equipment: small cast-iron skillet, bowl, small food processor, cutting board, big skillet for cooking.

Typed by Sylvia Steiger, SylviaRN (at) CompuServe (dot) com
From: Henning Sponbiel in on Feb 16, 2000.
chapter picture
Piyachok Thawornmat / 10053704