food for thought

by michelle

turmeric assam chicken

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This Nonya style Malaysian dish is wonderfully complex and fragrant.


In a small food processor or mortar and pestle make a paste of 1 tablespoon of grated fresh turmeric, 1 tablespoon of grated fresh galangal, 3-4 stalks of finely sliced lemongrass (the white part only) and a 2cm (¾”) piece of belacan (shrimp paste) and add 1 tablespoon of tamarind concentrate. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and fry the paste until it is darker and fragrant. Add 10-12 chicken drumsticks and stir to coat them with the mixture, allowing them to cook a little. Add just enough water to cover the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 8-10 sliced fresh red chillies and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Next add 15 thinly slice cloves of garlic and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Finally add 15 finely sliced brown shallots, season with salt and sugar to taste and simmer for a final 5-10 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

*adapted from Elizabeth Tan’s three-generation-old recipe.


Written by michelle picker

December 5, 2015 at 5:33 am

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