Ayam Kleo (Nyonyan Chicken Curry)

It’s been a LONG time since I cooked something Malaysian – almost a year! I find this bizarre – especially as I love the food so much. I think my focus has been very much on Indian for the last 12 months, but cooking Malaysian food is so enjoyable. Tonight was a really simple curry in the Nyonyan style. It really was delicious – creamy, rich, spicy and incredibly fragrant. A real winner and a must try curry!

1 kg chicken thighs (cut into large chunks)
1 onion (chopped)
1 lemon grass stalk (whites only, thinly sliced)
6 candle nuts (or macadamia nuts)
1 heaped tablespoon grated garlic
1 heaped tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch white pepper
400ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons peanut oil

In a pestle and mortar, grind together the lemon grass, candle nuts, onion, garlic and ginger until very smooth. Stir in the chilli and turmeric powders, shrimp paste, salt and pepper. Take 2 tablespoons of the paste and stir into the chicken. Leave for 1/2 hour to marinade.

Heat the oil in a wok until hot – add the chicken pieces and let them brown for 5 minutes. Add the remaining curry paste and the coconut milk along with about 300ml water. Let this come to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently, uncovered for 40 minutes to reduce the sauce until thick and creamy.

Serve with lots of fragrant Jasmine rice or buttery roti bread.

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