Adventures living as expats.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Indonesian Chicken Curry - Gulai Ayam

After discussing Thai Green Curry during the AWA talk, I moved to Indonesian curries which were originally inspired by India due to the trade relationship.  These curries - kari, gulai, and Rendang have a distinct Indonesian flare because they're fiery and cooked in coconut milk.  Gulai sauce can be quite addicting and it's vibrant orange color is due to the turmeric powder and dried chillies.

First grind the paste.
Then combine the dry spices.
Fry the paste for a few minutes, add the spices, then add the chicken and lemongrass.
Coconut milk and broth go in next and the gulai is simmered until thickened.
Finally, garnish and devour.

Gulai Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Curry)

12 skinless chicken thighs or 6 breast halves
3 Tbsp oil
200 ml thick coconut milk
1-2 cups chicken broth
3 stalks lemongrass, bruised
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

Spice Paste:
15 shallots
10 dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 20 mins
1 inch galangal
1 inch fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
6 candlenuts

Dry Spices:
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 inch cinnamon stick

  1.  Chop spice paste ingredients and grind into a paste, adding water if needed to keep the mix turning.
  2. Combine coriander, cumin, fennel and turmeric together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3.  Heat oil in wok and gently fry spice paste for 2- 3 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add dry spices and fry, stirring for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add chicken and lemongrass and cook, stirring frequently until chicken is well coated with spices.
  6. Add coconut milk, 1 cup broth, and salt.
  7. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until chicken is tender and curry has thickened (~20 minutes).  Add additional broth if sauce becomes too thick.
  8.   Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Curry Cravings - Thai Green Curry

A few weeks ago Les and I did a talk for AWA (American Women's Association) where I discussed curry (Thai, Indonesian, and Indian) and she highlighted a traditional wedding she attended in India and explained the customs related to a few events.  Jeff was my guinea pig and sous chef for all the curry creations which he was more than happy to help with.  The talk went really well with only a little stage fright on my part due to the large size of the group.  To kick off the Thai discussion, I talked about a few of the popular types of Thai curry:

  • Green curry is generally mild and sweet with fresh green chilies, lime leaves, and cilantro to give the vibrant green color.
  • Red curry is spicy and uses fresh red chilies (both hot and mild) to give the bright red color
  • Penang is a peanut curry that is creamy and mild with dried red chilies used, instead of fresh, and crushed peanut is added while the curry sauce cooks.

I went into more explanation on Thai Green Curry and gave out the recipe below.  This is an update/improvement to the traditional green curry I posted last year and uses lime leaves (one of my new favorite herbs) in the paste and more vegetables in the curry.  The method is very similar and starts with a great curry paste of cilantro leaves and roots, ginger, galangal, shallots, lime leaves, green chilies, lemongrass, garlic, salt, coriander, cumin, and white pepper.
My little Sharp grinder works better than the food processor for the paste.
Gather all the ingredients as the cooking can go pretty fast.
Fry the paste in cooking oil to help release the flavors.
Meat and veggies are added once the paste becomes fragrant.  After a few minutes add the liquids and simmer on low.   
Add the finishing flavors, plate, and garnish with herbs.

Thai Green Chicken Curry
8 chicken thighs or 4 breast halves
1 Tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 large eggplant chopped
1 cup mushrooms halved
1 carrot diced
200 ml thick coconut milk
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 kaffir lime leaves torn
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 cup cilantro roughly chopped
¼ cup basil torn

Curry Paste:
4 large green chillies
4 garlic cloves
3 shallots
2 lemon grass stalks
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 inch galangal
1 inch ginger
4 cilantro roots
2 Tbsp cilantro leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

  1. Chop curry paste ingredients and grind in processor to form a paste.  Add water if needed to keep the mix turning.
  2. Heat oil in wok, add curry paste and stir-fry 2- 3 minutes.
  3. Add chicken, garlic, eggplant, mushrooms, and carrots and stir-fry for around 5 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk and mix well to combine with curry paste, bring to a low simmer.
  5. Add the chicken broth, sugar, lime leaves, and fish sauce.  Simmer gently until chicken is cooked and eggplant is tender, adding water according to preference.
  6. Stir in cilantro and basil and remove from heat.
Note: Can be made ahead of time (through step 5) and reheated.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lombok Surprise Party

Part of living in Jakarta is you get to experience the full degree of stomach issues.  Generally people have traveler's sickness while on vacation, but Jeff and I have a pretty good track record of just the opposite.  It always amazes us that after a vacation of eating indulgent foods and drinking too much, we often come home only to be struck by Jakarta Belly Syndrome.  I was the victim last week which left me laying on the couch, daydreaming about our wonderful weekend trip to Lombok for Mia's 30th.    Miraculously her husband kept all the details secret including the full bar and blender he stuffed into his suitcase.  Mia was genuinely surprised as each person filtered into the airport or met her at the hotel.

Lombok is often called the unspoiled Bali
Jeff and I arrived earlier than the group so we got to do a little beach exploring before the party began. 

Biggest coconuts ever!

The next day was spent around the beautiful  pool at the Villa with plenty of drinking, beersby, swim races, and relaxing.
Mia's fan club
Then we went out for drinks and a group dinner capped off with a birthday song and delicious wine.

Despite feeling a bit rough the next morning, we all headed out for a group snorkeling/diving trip where we got to swim with a turtle and practice our water ballet.  

What a great trip, we can't wait to go back!