Gulai Ayam (Chicken Curry from Sumatra)

Gulai Ayam (Chicken Curry from Sumatra)

Gulai Ayam (Chicken Curry from Sumatra)

Gulai Ayam, Indonesian chicken curry

Ummm.. how do I describe this dish... I think its like Indian chicken curry with a hint of Asian touch. You know, double awesomeness. It might look 'heavy' with all that spices and coconut milk, but it balanced out with the freshness of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. 

If you cook Asian food often (especially South East Asian dishes), you'd better stock on kaffir lime leaves. Sometime this ingredient is left out (or worse: replace it with lime zest) because people think its 'only a leaf', but its actually a crucial key ingredients in South Asian cooking. The unique taste it provides is what makes the dish special. 

You can find this leaf at Asian store, fresh or frozen. Sometime you can find it in powder form too (dried and shredded, like dried oregano). I have never used the dried one tho, so I can't say. Usually dried ingredients doesn't do justice compare to the fresh one.

So, before I rant furthermore of this lovely leaf that I have been trying to grow for the last 3 years partly indoor and oh mah gawd its harder than raising a toddler, lets just have a look at the recipe for this awesome dish, shall we?

850 gr chicken (I used 3 complete thighs)
2 cloves
5 cm cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
3 cardamom
1 lemongrass, bruised
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste
4 shallots, thinly sliced
400 ml of coconut milk (1 can)
400 ml of water

Ingredients to paste:
1 onion
3 thai chilis
1 long sweet chili (around 150gr), or you can replace it with thai chilis if you like it super spicy
4 garlic
2 cm fresh galangal
2 cm fresh ginger
2 cm fresh turmeric
1/2 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Cooking step:

  1. Put all ingredients to paste into an electric food processor, process it until it becomes a smooth paste,
  2. Sautée thinly sliced shallots, pasted ingredients, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant (shallots wilt and transluscent),
  3. Add chicken into the sauté, continue cooking until the chicken stiffen,
  4. Add tamarind paste and salt, 
  5. Add coconut milk and water, continue cooking on medium heat until the sauce thickens,
  6. Stir from time to time during cooking, your gulai is ready when you start to see red oily substance flowing on top of the sauce (see pic above),
  7. Et voila, its ready to be served with a bowl of rice.

Happy cooking!


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