What is most daunting about any new cuisine is the unfamiliarity with ingredients and when it comes to Indonesian cooking, it you are not familiar with it, it is all the more overwhelming. Stacie and I have taught quite a few Indonesian Cooking Classes over the past year. Needless to say we have become experts at making sambal and spice pastes in bulk, at odd hours of the evening (late night after kids are asleep – because that is when mothers work).
If you are going to go through the trouble of making this spice paste, I would make several batches (like we do). It freezes remarkably well in a ziplock bag and then you can have Indonesian curry as and when you please. Once you start making your own curry pastes you will realize how much superior the home-made stuff is. We still use the store bought pastes, but our homemade stuff is far tastier. And I love it when it just comes out of the freezer and is transformed into a soul-warming and delicious curry.
You can adjust the chilli and spice level to suit the little ones . That’s the beauty of these home-made curry pastes, you can make them to taste and cater to all the taste-buds in your households. Sambal and other condiments can spice the meal up for the grown-ups, while the kiddos enjoy their mild curry. The coconut milk makes it sweet and creamy and totally palatable for the little ones.
Kare Ayam – Chicken Curry – Adapted from Fragrant Rice by Janet De Neefe
- 1 ¼ or 1 ½ lbs chicken skinless thighs (each thigh cut into 2-3 pieces if bone in or boneless cut into cubes)
- 5 tbsps oil for frying
- 2-3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and bruised, tied in a knot
- 1-2 cups coconut milk (I usually use 1 can)
- 1 cup water (or less or omit – depends on how thick you like your curry)
- salt to taste
- 3-4 shallots
- 3 large red chillies – optional
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 2-3 Thai bird’s eye chillies
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp chopped galangal
- 1 tbsp chopped tumeric
- 3-4 candlenuts (or macadamia nuts)
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cumin
- 2 tsp palm/brown sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons oil
- Grind all the spice mix ingredients in a mortar or pestle or process them in a food processor on high speed with a little oil until paste like
- Heat the oil in a large wok or saucepan and fry the spice mixture over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes or until spices are fragrant. Throw in the lime leaves and lemongrass and fry for 30 seconds until coated with the spices
- Add the chicken and fry for 3-4 minutes, till chicken is sealed, changed color and about half cooked
- Add the coconut milk, salt to taste and water (add as much or as little as you like based on how “soupy” you like the curry.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30-35 minutes.
- Check for seasoning and serve topped with fried shallot garnish (if desired)