Early this month, I received a personal message from a blogger friend.  Some readers might know her by her pseudonym; Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders.

It was really sweet of Miss B to ask me if I would like to have some of her freshly harvested “Spaanse pepers” or cayenne chillies.  She ended her note with “Can I mail you some?”

Nope, Miss B was not joking!

The chillies arrived in my letterbox one day after Miss B went to the post office! Wow! That really showed the efficiency of the Belgian Post.  Well done!

1. Pandan chix curry_green chillies11. Pandan chix curry_green chillies2

Everything looked, smelled and felt so fresh with those green chillies. They were nicely tucked in a few layers of absorbent papers. I had a few things in mind what I could do with them…

Of cold and heat

In Belgium, the new school (not tertiary) semester started on the first Monday in the month of September, meaning the end of the school summer holidays anno 2013 for my two boys. How they loathed going back to school and facing the early morning wakes and cycling to school in the cold and rain.

September is also the month when the yo-yo effect of the mercury level played havoc with our immune system.  My older son was down with a rather bad cold recently but yet he did not miss any single lesson. Good boy 😉

To prevent further aggravation and spread of the cold to his younger brother and the rest of us, I decided to cook a tasty plate of hot and fragrant chicken curry – a sure way to curb a nasty cold 😉

2. Pandan chicken curry_Far Eastern Odyssey

A Far Eastern Odyssey

I love watching the many food travel episodes of Rick Stein on BBC. Not long ago, I bought a copy of his cookbook – a translated version in Dutch – “Rick Stein Ontdekt De Oriënt” (Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey). His travel escapades included living, eating and cooking with the locals of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bali and Bangladesh.

By the way, there was one curry dish that stood high on my to-do list for months already.  It was the Sri Lankan Chicken Curry. I was intrigued by the use of pandan leaves in the curry dish recipe.  Maybe I have eaten curries with pandan that I was not aware of in the past, but for sure, I have never actually used pandan leaves in any of my curry dishes until now 😀

This recipe is adapted from Rick Stein’s Sri Lankan Chicken Curry. I have made some changes and modifications indicated in blue italic.

Ingredients –

(Serves 4 – 5)

  • 2 Tbsp coconut or vegetable oil (I used corn oil)
  • 1.5 kg chicken, cut in 8 parts (I used 1 kg ready-to-use boneless chicken cubes)
  • One 15cm cinnamon stick, broken into smaller bits (the last thing I would do was break the cinnamon bark into tiny bits! My three guys would curse me for that, hence, I left the cinnamon stick whole  )
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • 10 green cardamom pods, bruised (I used 8 cardamom pods, removed the seeds and ground them with a pestle and mortar)
  • 10 cloves (I used 8 cloves)
  • 350 g onions or shallots, thinly sliced (I used I big onion, blended)
  • 40 g garlic, crushed (I used 8 cloves garlic, blended)
  • 25 g fresh ginger, peeled & grated (I used 5 cm piece ginger, blended)
  • 2 Tbsp Roasted Sri Lankan Chicken Curry powder (I used Yeo’s Malaysian curry powder, which included the following ingredients: coriander seed, chilli, fennel, cumin, turmeric, white pepper, aniseed, cinnamon and clove)
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder (I used 2 heap tsp of  Mum’s homemade chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (I used a 4 cm piece of fresh turmeric, blended)
  • 200 g tin tomato (I used 4 fresh tomatoes, quartered)
  • 20 curry leaves (I used dried curry leaves)
  • 4×4 cm pandan leaves (I used 4 long sprays of screwpine or pandan leaves)
  • 1 fat lemongrass stalk, halved & lightly bruised (I used 2 stalks of lemon grass, lightly bruised, plus 1 stalk, blended)
  • 3 green cayenne chillies, split open lengthways (I used 8 fresh green chillies which I got from Miss B, blended, plus 1 extra split open lengthways)
  • 400 ml coconut milk (Unfortunately, I could not get fresh coconut milk, hence, I used 1 can of 400ml coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice (I used 1 Tbsp concentrated tamarind paste)
  • I used Himalayan salt, to taste

Method –

1)      Peel and cut roughly the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon grass. Remove the stalks from the green chillies and then blend all these together in a blender to form a paste.

 3. Pandan chix curry_blended ingredients13. Pandan chix curry_blended ingredients2

2)      Heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and fry over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

3)      With the oil left over from the pan, sauté the blended paste until fragrant. Add the par cooked chicken cubes, cinnamon stick, freshly ground cardamom seeds, cloves, lemon grass and knotted pandan leaves (Note my wok was smoking away when I took the picture 😀 )

4. Pandan chix curry_sauteéd ingredients

4)      Simmer for a few minutes and add the curry powder, chilli powder, quartered tomatoes, coconut milk and one green chilli, slit open lengthways with seeds intact. Stir to combine and continue to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, covered, over low to medium heat. Season to taste.

5. Pandan chix curry_seasoned15. Pandan chix curry_seasoned25. Pandan chix curry_seasoned3

5)      While the chicken was simmering away, I steamed the pandan-infused jasmin rice (I ran out of basmati rice)

 6. Pandan chix curry_panda rice

6)      Five minutes before plating up the fragrant pandan chicken curry, I added the tamarind paste.

The tamarind paste and pandan leaves made all the difference to this dish.  I swear it was a top notch chicken curry, quite unlike the ones I have tasted.  It was really quite addictive, I must say.

Pandan Chicken Curry served in an earthenware pot – tagine! A Sri Lankan dish served in a Moroccan tagine by a Malaysian in Belgium. What a global dish! LOL!

Pandan Chicken Curry served in an earthenware pot – tagine! A Sri Lankan dish served in a Moroccan tagine by a Malaysian in Belgium. What a global dish! LOL!

Our Sunday lunch :-D

Our Sunday lunch 😀

Closed up of the fragrant pandan chicken curry – on my plate ;-)

Closed up of the fragrant pandan chicken curry – on my plate 😉

What was left here went in my lunchbox the next day

What was left here went in my lunchbox the next day

My lunchbox – the day after!  YUMMY :-P

My lunchbox – the day after! YUMMY 😛

Oh by the way, my son’s cold was long gone. It could be that he ate one whole raw green chilli! I’m not kidding here.

Summary facts about green chillies (searched from the internet) –

  • Green chillies are a good source of Vitamins A, C, K and Capsaicin
  • Green chillies are actually immature chilli peppers, harvested before fully ripening.  That accounted to the green chillies turning red in my fridge after one week!
  • Green chillies are low in calories, virtually fat-free and rich in nutrients.

 Vitamin A is essential for the health and maintenance of red blood cells, necessary for proper growth and development and to support immune system health.

 Vitamin C helps synthesize collagen, promote the healing of skin wounds and aid in the development of strong bones.

 Vitamin K in green chillies may help decrease your risk of osteoporosis and of heavy bleeding.

 Capsaicin is the substance that occurs naturally in chillies, giving them their spicy flavour, meaning the hotter the chilli, the more capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin acts as a natural pain reliever.

 Note: If you have a chronic digestive disorder, for example irritable bowel syndrome or heartburn, spicy foods may exacerbate the symptoms, so please stay away…

Pandan leaves are not only used as fragrant aromatic agents or natural food colourants, but are also used for myriads of health benefits.  It’s interesting to know after googling the web that these amazing screw pines can be used as a cosmetic and natural medicine such as darkening our grey hairs, warding off dandruffs, improving rheumatism and muscle pains by concocting a massage ointment using pandan leaves, etc..

Oh by the way, if you have forgotten how these stunning wonder plant look like, here you go … again!!

3a. Sago Pudding_pandan13b. Sago Pudding_pandan2 

I’m linking this post to the following events –

1. Little Thumbs up event with the September theme “PANDAN”, hosted by Joceline from Butter, Flour and Me, organized by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


2. Cook-Your-Books #4 organized by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books

3. Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads   – By the way, this dish was cooked over the weekend, hence, I think I’m (still) qualified for this event – hopefully 😉

Weekend Cooking

4. September 2013 Cooking With Herbs Blog Challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage


Stay well! Stay healthy!

See you soon…


Related reading –

Beef Rendang-by special request

  1. melharry says:

    Nyamai nyak.

    Pandan hiyok can also put inside ur car boot to make it smell nice or even ur in ur car.
    Pandan hiyok also can be an insect and pest repellent..eg lipas, rats.
    Pandan hiyok can be kept inside your drawers and wardrobe to make ur drawers n wardrobes smell fresh n nice.
    Pandan hiyok can be cut to pieces mix with flower petals and add to ur bath tub for mandi.
    Pandan also fir baking cakes
    Pandan kept in ur rice dispenser to keep away kutu beras
    Pandan cut to little pieces mix with beras and rose petals for wedding showers or confeties….
    Pandan is also a coloring agent
    Big Pandan can pow bakchang
    ….macam2 ajak pandan tok boleh di pakei.
    Pandan is a super duper plant.
    We love pandan.

    Cheers che. Another lovely and interesting post from you.

  2. Wow, what a delicious looking curry dish! So sweet of Ms B to mail to you those gorgeous chilies. I absolutely love spicy food, must have my sliced chilli padi with see yau and a squeeze of lime with almost every meal, that is if I did not cook anything spicy. Maybe that’s why I seldom fall sick! Haha! It’s true! Chili and lime has lots of vitamins and beneficial properties.
    Pandan leaves are great in curries and sambals. I sometimes use it too.
    My father-in-law used to say I eat too much chili, now he never does, even gave me his homegrown chili padi whenever we visit them! Hahaha! 🙂
    Thank you for linking, have a lovely week!

  3. Nasifriet says:

    Tiok. Tiok, Tiok 🙂 All tiok, Da..
    Mr Sumbat from Thai House told me that he used pandan hiok as “air freshner” for his jamban 😀

    Definitely a long list of goodness can be squeezed out from this magical hiok…

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Joyce. Like you, I LOVE spicy food. Mmmmmm…. what you have indicated about the chilli padi + soy + lime/ lemon juice is absolutely the best condiment ever invented. Makes our meal really appetizing, isn’t it?

    Re pandan in curries, this will not be the end 😉

  5. Beth F says:

    First, there are no rules for Weekend Cooking — just link up over the weekend. You can post, cook, eat, or read any time! I’m extremely flexible. 🙂

    Second. Wow. What a nice gift to get in the mail. Third, I love Belgium!

    Fourth, I love that you made so many changes in this dish; that’s exactly how I like to cook, adapting things to fit what’s in my pantry and how I like to eat. We love spicy food, so I’m bookmarking this recipe. This sound delicious.

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Beth

    First of all, good to read you 🙂

    I’m glad you’ve made a leeway to Weekend Cooking. I’m that kind of person as well. That means you will hear more from me !!
    Glad you love spicy food. Honestly this was a great tasting curry. I will definitely make this again, ie, I’m not waiting until someone is down with a cold 🙂

  7. Zoe says:

    I like your idea of using hot curry to fix up any colds… I believe too that the chillies do warm up tummies and clearing up noses pretty well.

    How old are your two sons? Can they eat spicy food. Mine (4 plus) is totally hopeless with chilli and spices… ai ya! Coming from Singapore, my husband and I love chillies and spicy food but I simply hate the fuss of cooking separate dishes for chilli- and non-chilli- eaters!!!

    Miss B sending you these chilies – Lucky you!


  8. Nasifriet says:

    Can my sons eat spicy food?? Well, my 16-yr old older son has absolutely no issues with spicy food. He can eat one whole raw chilli, as if they were lollies 🙂 My 12-yr old hasn’t got to that league yetyet… I can understand your 4-yr old. He’s still a baby, Zoe !!

    I’ll be even luckier if Miss B is my neighbour! I will be spoilt with her bakes 😀 She baked 2 cakes when she came to my place the last time… he he he

  9. joceline says:

    your are well done ~ book mark this herbal chicken recipe. Thanks for sharing & link.

  10. Chris says:

    The curry looks amazing! I could definitely eat that leftover. And your pandan leaves look so fresh. I’m feeling rather envious. 😀

  11. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Joceline. You’re most welcome 🙂

  12. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Chris.
    Re the pandan, I have to know when to visit the Asian store. They normally carry their fresh produce once a week. I was there on a Saturday, and there were lots – so fresh and vibrant green. Think they got their fresh produce on Frday evening 🙂

  13. Chris says:

    Lucky you. 😀 I don’t think I have ever seen fresh pandan leaves here…bummer. You’ve got to use some to make pandan chiffon cake. 😀

  14. BK says:

    I want to be your neighbour too, it’s a pity that we live 1 hour apart! All your malaysian dishes are so mouth-watering! You know, sometimes I really wish there is somebody to eat my pandan chiffon cake, I seem to be the only one enjoying it, besides my baby girl. 😛

  15. Nasifriet says:

    😀 😀 Thanks for reminding me abt the pandan chiffon cake 😀 😀

    It will be a surprise 😉

  16. Nasifriet says:

    You know what, we should find a time to get together one day. I can still not get over your pandan cake steamed in the rice cooker! Perhaps I had only one piece as the rest were shared with the other guests 😀

  17. Hi Nasifriet,
    Sorry for my late visit.

    Love your delicious Pandan Chicken curry. Love the addition of the tamarind paste and the curry leaves, it boost up the taste of the curry. Oh!! you are so lucky that Ms B send you such wonderful chillies.

    Thanks for sharing and linking this wonderful curry dish to LTU 🙂

    Just read that you are originally a Sarawakian from Kuching. I am a Sarawakian too, I am from Miri. Am so happy to meet a Sarawakian via blogging 🙂


  18. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Doreen…. Oh Wow! Glad to know another Sarawakian 🙂 I know being a co-organiser of the LTU leaves you absolutely full house,ie blog-hopping 😀

    Thanks for the compliment. You know what, I made this Pandan Chix curry again last weekend! Yes, it was SO good, esp now when it’s getting colder. The heat and warmth from the curry did wonders.

    Yeah, I was really surprised with Miss B’s offer. I definitely did not say “no”. Infact I’m thinking of planting my own chilli (as recommended by Miss B)!! Let’s see…

  19. […] savoury dishes appetisingly fragrant and aromatic. I have used knotted pandan leaves in my curries (Thereupatic Pandan Chicken Curry),  fragrant rice (nasi lemak) and glutinous rice (pulut panggang).  Absolutely bang […]

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