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After a long succession of Indian style curries, today we fancied something a little different. We reached for Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Ultimate Curry Bible’ (the current favourite point of reference…slowly working our way through the book) for some inspiration. But whatever it was, it needed a big kick and an abundance of flavour.

We decided on the ‘Vietnamese Chicken Curry’ – a meal that originates from the South of Vietnam – mainly due to its ‘thick and stew-like’ nature, aided by the large amount of vegetables required (always guarantees a good feed!). This is complimented by a can of coconut milk, plus a generous portion of both garlic and ginger.

To make our version of this curry (serves two) you will need:
– 500g of chicken (skinless/boneless thighs)
– Two and a half tablespoons of curry powder (Madhur’s recipe – see earlier blog post on Peranakan (Nonya) Chicken Curry)
– 140g of shallots (peeled/chopped)
– Two sticks of lemongrass (bottom half/cut crossways into fine slices)
– Thumb size piece of ginger (peeled/chopped)
– Six garlic cloves (peeled/chopped)
– Three dried hot chillies (seeded)
– Three tablespoons of sunflower oil
– One cinnamon stick
– One bay leaf
– One large onion (peeled/cut into eight pieces)
– Two medium tomatoes (chopped)
– Six new potatoes (halved)
– Two medium carrots (peeled/chopped into chunks)
– 300ml of coconut milk
– One tablespoon of fish sauce (or to taste)
– One teaspoon of sugar
– Salt to taste

Method:
– Rub the chicken with one and a half tablespoons of the curry powder. Set aside.
– Put the rest of the curry powder, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor with four to five tablespoons of water. Mix until smooth, pushing down with a spatula when needed.
– Heat the oil in a lidded pan on a medium heat, add the cinnamon and the bay leaf. Stir and add the onion. Fry until the onion starts to brown at the edges.
– Add the paste from the mixer and fry (stirring at the same time) for two to three minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes. Tip in the tomatoes and stir/fry until they have turned into a paste, then add in the chicken. Stir for a minute.
– Cover the pan, reduce the heat to a medium-low and leave to cook for a further seven to eight minutes, lifting the lid to stir occasionally.
– Put in the potatoes, carrots, fish sauce, 100ml of water plus 300ml of coconut milk. Stir and bring to the boil.
– Salt to taste, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for twenty minutes. Uncover and cook for a further ten minutes to reduce (our personal preference).
– Serve with basmati rice.

As soon as I smelt the aromas that filled the house as this was bubbling away on the stove, I knew that it was going to be a hit. I wasn’t anticipating quite as much of a kick, however (ooof…boy did it have some heat behind it!), but I still couldn’t stop myself from finishing every last bite (that said, we agreed to reduce the recipe down to fewer chillies next time). This in itself was a challenge even for us, as the added potatoes and carrots make it a very substantial plate, particularly when eaten alongside rice. Hot, filling and tasty!

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