I ate a lot of curries while growing up in my hometown, Kuching. I am probably blessed with having Indian relatives on both my Dad’s and Mum’s sides of the family.
I remembered having attended Indian ceremony weddings of my aunts. I loved the Indian thali meal, which was made up of a selection of various dishes (sweet and savoury). The thali I know here in Europe is served on a steel tray made with multiple compartments or served in small bowls, which are placed on a round tray or big round plate. The ones I knew back then (in Malaysia) were served on banana leaves (Mmmm…yummy!). On top of that, we ate with our hands. No cutleries. It was fun eating with our fingers, and washing our hands before and after eating was compulsory 😀
Here are some examples of thalis I have had in Belgium – the Nepalese thali (assortment of meat and vegetables) and the Indian vegetarian thali. As you can see, few familiar items were missing – the chutneys/ pickles, rotis and the indispensable pappadum. *sigh*
Anyway, something better than nothing…
By the way, “Banana leaf” restaurants are ubiquitous in the 13 states and 3 FederalTerritories of Malaysia and neighboring Singapore, in particular, areas with significant ethnic South Indian. In other words, the South Indian migrants brought this banana leaf rice concept with them to Malaysia and Singapore.
Thanks to them, all Malaysians and Singaporeans of any origin and racial group could enjoy this coolest way of serving rice dishes on a banana leaf (aka disposable plates) with or without cutleries 😛
Hmmmm…..It has been eons ago since I had a proper banana leaf rice meal. My younger sister sent me some pictures of what she and Mum had been indulging recently. I could only drool….
Points to ponder :
Did you know that meal etiquette exist by the way one fold the banana leaf? If the banana leaf is folded inwards (towards your direction), this dictates a sign of gratitude and appreciation to the chef or the host. The opposite is true if you fold the banana leaf upwards or outwards, as this signifies ingratitude or a sign of condolence to the host. Contrary to popular belief, the folding of the banana leaf inwards and outwards does not, in any way, dictate the rating of the meal.
Hence, the rule of thumb:
Inwards (towards your heart) = gratitude => must do
Outwards (away from your heart) = impoliteness => to avoid
Ooops, sorry for the diversion, now let’s get to the point…
Erm…where was I?
No, it’s not scary curry, but scurry curry that was made in a hurry. Boy, that rhymed so well 😀
I made this curry dish especially for my guys (hubs, and my two boys) one Sunday morning because I had a planned ladies’ day out with 4 girlfriends that day. We had a scrumptious – but a bit pricey – Moroccan tagine meal. Shhhh….
Perhaps out of guilt, I forethought a wholesome one-dish meal for my guys before I left the house just before noon; I have cooked up several different dishes already – spaghetti Bolognese, Beef Rendang, fried rice, fried noodles, shepherd’s pie…. As you can tell, I have had some moments of time out with the girls 😉
That Sunday, I knew what I had to cook, and chicken curry it was, as this was not on the list yet. I know I’m spoiling my guys, but I love them too much to let them go grumpily hungry and by the way, my hubby is not one who likes to eat out 😦 or :-D. What can I say? Sheer labour of love 😀
This chicken curry I cooked was made in a flash in all-in-one pan with almost all fresh herbs and spices. No instant bumbus. In hindsight, I wish I was there to indulge, because it tasted as good as it looked 😉
(Serves 3 – 4)
3 chicken legs – washed, skinned and cut in thighs and drumsticks (this will total 6 chicken parts) Note: I prefer chicken legs to chicken breasts as the later tend to be dryer while the former will retain the moist, remain succulent and tastier hours after cooking
2 – 3 Tbsp cooking oil
1 can coconut milk, ca 400 ml
Chicken stock cube, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 – 2 cups water (adjustable, depending on how liquid you want the curry sauce to end up)
Wet ingredients –
1 big onion, chopped finely
1 thumb fresh ginger, grated
1 small fresh turmeric, grated (use turmeric powder if you don’t want to end up with yellow-stained fingers)
4 cloves garlic, minced with some coarse sea salt
4 red shallots, chopped finely
4 roots of fresh coriander, minced
Note: I minced, chopped and grated these ingredients by hand. By all means, use a blender if you want a smoother texture, but I like a bit of a bite in my curry sauce.
Dry spices –
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp garam masala (I blended my own garam masala – so fragrant!) *
1 – 2 tsp cumin powder, to taste
1/2 – 1 tsp coriander powder, to taste
2 Tbsp curry powder, to taste
½ – 1 tsp chilli powder (I got a jar of homemade ground chilli from my Mum. Thanks Mum!)
* Garam masala is a blend of ground spices. Garam means “hot” and masala means “spices”. A typical version of garam masala includes black & green cardamom pods, black & white peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds. Since there is not one garam masala that is considered more authentic than another, I would normally include one or two more spices. On top of the 5 mentioned spices, I added coriander seeds and fennel seeds. All these are toasted (dry roasted) to exude that extraordinary aroma before being blended in powder form.
Fresh herbs & vegetables –
1 large carrot (or 2 small ones) – cut in rounds or on the bias
2 tomatoes (quartered)
6 potatoes (halved)
2 stalks lemon grass (bruised)
6 kaffir lime leaves (slightly torn or bruised)
2 cm thick galangal (bruised)
1 green + 1 red chillies (scored lightly lengthwise, leaving the seeds intake and remove before serving)
A handful of curry leaves (unfortunately, I could not find any fresh ones, hence, had to settle for the dried ones. I crunched them to bring out the flavour)
Method –1. Sauté the wet ingredients until fragrant and translucent. 2. Add a little water to the ground spices (garam masala, cumin & curry powder) to make a thick paste. This will avoid the dry spices being burnt when frying in the pan. 3. Stir and combine for a few minutes until another dimension of fragrance exudes from the pan. 4. Add the chicken parts, cinnamon stick, cloves and chilli powder. Stir and make sure that the chicken parts are coated with the spices and sautéed ingredients. Fry for a minute or two. 5. Add the coconut milk followed by lemon grass, galangal, and chillies and crunched curry leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes. 6. Add the potatoes, carrots and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer on medium heat until the potatoes and chicken meat are cooked. You may want to add more water at this stage if you want a runny curry sauce. Season to taste. 7. Finally add the tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes and again check for final seasoning. 8. Serve with hot steamed rice or roti or just plain white bread or baguette.
When I got home that late afternoon, the pan was empty – in my opinion – analogous to folding the banana leaf inwards (direction of the heart). Actions speak louder than words 😉
All’s well that ends well 😀
I am submitting this entry to Little Thumbs Up event with the theme “CURRY”, hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats well in Flanders, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite D.I.Y.
Enjoy the sunny weekend!
Cheers and take care
Related Posts –
- Beef Rendang – by special request
- Easy-breezy hassle-free Curry Puffs
- Crispy Roday – a tribute to my late dad
- The Irresistible Sarawak Laksa