Firstly, I wanted to thank Nihal, the Mediterranean Turkish Cook for passing me this wonderful Lemonade Award that really cheered me up after a long bout of wheezings, coughings, sore throats and sleepless nights for the last few weeks! Çok, çok teşekküler, Nihal for this Lemonade Award! Also, what a coincidence that I was cooking another family recipe that I love so much from my mom that shared the same Citrus family as this lemony award!
I'm referring to this frequent cooked Kaffir Lime Curry Chicken in Southeast Asian homes where there were several versions from different countries even available online. This fragrant curry actually doesn't have kaffir lime juice in it but its evergreen fragrant leaves! Kaffir lime itself has very little juice compared to other Limes. Besides as culinary use, it plays very important part in local beliefs. In this recipe, I preferred the curry thicker or 'dry' as the local called it and to maximise the fragrant leaves, I julienned the kaffir lime leaves finely with a very sharp knife more than required and mixed into the curry instead of whole leaves as the norm. Traditionally, my mom would use an Indian terracotta pot to cook this curry but you can use your normal heavy pot. It's only slight difference in taste (though the terracotta gives out better taste.) Here's my version adapted from my mom's... :-D
Curry Chicken with Kaffir Lime Leaves
Serves 4-6 persons
600 g - 800 g Whole Chicken or your favourite Chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, etc)
To be pounded finely:
1 stalk Lemongrass - use only the white portion
4 pips Garlic
6 dried chillies
5 fresh red chillies
3 cm fresh Tumeric
10 pcs Kaffir Lime leaves
4 pieces Tamarind Slices
2-3 Tbl Cooking Oil
250 ml Fresh Thick Coconut Milk
1. Clean the chicken and cut into pieces. I preferred to remove the skin before cooking. If you don't bother, you can leave it on and remove skin later.
2. Smash the galangal with the back of a knife or you can use a pestle and mortar if you have it.
3. Soak dried chillies in warm water for 15 minutes or until soften.
4. Pound the shallots, garlic, fresh chillies, tumeric and dried chillies until fine. You can use a blender if it's more convenient.
5. Wash the Kaffir Lime leaves and cut off the hard middle stems. Roll the leaves up tightly and with a sharp knife, julienne the leaves finely.
6. Heat a deep pan or a wok until hot. Add the cooking oil and the pounded ingredients. Stir until fragrant.
7. Add the cut chicken pieces and stir. Make sure the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated with the spice mixture for about 5 minutes.
8. Add 1/4 cup water, tamarind pieces, galangal and the julienned kaffir lime leaves. Stir until the chicken pieces are well coated with the spices.
9. Pour in the fresh coconut milk. Stir and add salt to taste. Cover the pot or wok and turn the heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Simmer until chicken meat thoroughly cooked.
This curry is great with rice, bread, naan, chapati or even as stuffings for buns, puffs, pies...
Note: I added very little water (sometimes non at all) as the chicken meat and coconut milk already contained some liquid. If you add more water, it would take longer time for the gravy or curry to thicken. Nevertheless, if you like more gravy, you can add more water :-) This curry is best eaten the day after - if you can stand it ... :-P Don't worry about the quantity of kaffir leaves used, it's not going to make the curry bitter. If you want, you can squeeze some Key Lime juices after stop the cooking. Enjoy!