Malaysian Chicken Curry with Kaffir Lime Leaves

On a trip to the Sydney markets today, the smiley man at one of the many Thai stalls misheard my request for a small bag of lime leaves. After three or four attempts to correct him, my English politeness took over and I surrendered myself whatever size bag he’d heard me ask for. So… I now have a carrier bag of lime leaves at my disposal. Hence this delicious recipe. Malaysia is responsible for some of the most interesting and unique cuisine in the world. Flavours from India, China and South East Asia meet in this traditional Nyonyan curry. A simple dish to cook, it is colourful, rich and amazingly fragrant. Kaffir lime leaves have a mellow and very distinctive lime note which imparts into this flavoursome sauce. Truly delicious. Now – what to cook with the other 4000 lime leaves I have in my bag… any suggestions?

For the paste:
7 small Thai red chillies (roughly chopped)
1 medium red onion (chopped)
1 stalk lemon grass (whites only – sliced)
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh galangal
1 teaspoon sliced fresh turmeric (or 1/2 teaspoon ground dried)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 teaspoon ground paprika (sweet)

Other Ingredients:
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1kg chicken thigh fillets (cut into 1/3 portions)
10 fresh kaffir lime leaves
400ml coconut milk
1/2 lime (juice of)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)

In a food processor or blender, blend together all the paste ingredients with about 1/4 cup of the coconut milk for about 5 minutes into a smooth paste. Set aside.

Heat the peanut oil in a large saucepan or wok over a moderate heat until hot, then add the spice paste and fry for about 5 minutes before adding the chicken pieces and half the lime leaves. Let this fry for a further 5 minutes, being careful not to let the paste stick – then add the coconut milk with the remaining lime leaves and about 300ml water. Let this come to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently (partially covered) for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the lime juice, white pepper and salt. Cover the pan and leave for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serve with lots of fluffy jasmine rice to soak up the deliciously fragrant sauce.

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