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It’s curry week on SheSaid and celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow shares her favourite recipe for authentic Nyonya chicken curry – a mainstay of every Malaysian potluck dinner.

You don’t get more definitively Malaysian than this classic Nyonya dish. It is the mainstay of every Malaysian pot luck dinner and the most outrageously out of place character at our Christmas buffet table, but there it always is right next to the ham. Hilarious! The first time I made this and it worked, I jumped around like a lunatic, I was so happy. I felt like I had conjured magic, to make a dish like this and have it hitting all those familiar notes of home – Poh Ling Yeow.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

3 Tbs coconut cream

10 sprigs of curry leaves

1 star anise

2 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 1/2 kg chicken thigh fillets

500g baby chat potatoes, peeled, halved and parboiled

2 bird’s eye chillies deseeded and halved lengthways

500ml coconut milk

1 Tbs salt

1 tsp sugar

Rempah (wet spice paste)

3 Tbs ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground fennel

15 dried long red chillies*, deseeded, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained and chopped

20g belacan

25g fresh turmeric root, peeled and sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced

270g red eschallots OR Spanish onion, peeled, sliced

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Method

1. To make the rempah, blend the rempah ingredients until you achieve a fine paste.

2. Heat heavy based saucepan or wok, to a medium heat. Add rempah, coconut cream, curry leaves, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick and saute for about 10 minutes. You will know the paste is ready when it thickens, darkens in colour and the oil begins to separate from the mixture. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add potatoes, chillies, coconut milk, salt and sugar. Cover and simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked through.

2. Serve with steamed jasmine rice or roti canai.

Notes: There are several types of dried chillies. For this recipe please choose the type that are about finger sized. The smaller ones are very hot and the broader, larger ones mild. Also please never replace dried chillies with fresh ones as they don’t impart the smokiness of flavour and depth of colour required for this dish.

What’s your favourite curry recipe?