Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Curry Chicken in Kaffir Lime Leaves

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:
8 shallots
1 stalk Lemongrass - use only the white portion
4 pips Garlic
6 dried chillies
5 fresh red chillies
3 cm fresh Tumeric

Thumb-sized Galangal
10 pcs Kaffir Lime leaves
4 pieces Tamarind Slices
2-3 Tbl Cooking Oil
250 ml Fresh Thick Coconut Milk
Some water

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!


  1. Pixen the curry chicken sounds delicious. Thanks for your wishes and I wish you and your family Happy Holidays.

  2. I see that this recipe uses lots of kaffir lime leaves...which is very pungent and makes an appetizing dish.

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Greetings from Paris!
    Have a Happy and Healthy 2009! Oh, I love curries!

  4. Hi Ivy,

    Καλά Χριστούγεννα και Ευτυχισμένο το Νέο Ετος!

    I'm going to put up my feet for awhile. The guys going to have a cook off ;-)

  5. Thank you CK for the greetings! Yes, I like to have lots of kaffir lime leaves in this dish. It's really appetizing like you said. Sometimes, I even add in the zest of kaffir limes in my salads and sorbets.

  6. Your curry chicken in kaffir lime leaves... sounds so yummy! I like curry :)

    Happy Holidays!

  7. Hi Selba,

    Don't forget to try it out... :-) Thank you for visiting my blog.

  8. Happy Holidays Pixen!

    This recipe looks great. I liked it so much, I will try it soon. I am not sure if I can find tamarind slices or kaffir lime leaves though. I've seen some kind of lime leaves in the market where I shop but I am not sure if they are the right kind. Would it taste too different if I omit the kaffir lime leaves and tamarind slices? First, I'll have too look for them in the Asian stores though.
    By the way, I've been meaning to tell you, good job in your Turkish :)

    Take care,

  9. It looks like rendang chicken to me. I luv the flavour of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Simply fabulous!

  10. Any recipe for chicken in coconut milk is alright with me. Yum

  11. Happy New Year Pixen with good health and happiness.

  12. hello! i am positive that your son would love moomins, im positive YOU would like moomins! i'm glad my writing is entertaining for you, that is what i live for :)

    yeah macarons and a little boy...hmm well, lets see the egg white rest on the counter overnight, so that's out of reach, the problem is once you pipe them onto their parchment they have to sit on the counter for one hour, pipe them during nap time!! --and, since he will most likely want a taste, peanut butter and jelly macarons are brilliant! yes put them on your 2009 list--i was so afraid to do them, but then when i finally did, i felt like a sheep for being afraid. the trick is the think of the right thing while making them :) good luck

  13. I saw your blog and wanted to say hi! I love curry chicken. It's so good!

  14. Blonde Duck... Thank you for saying Hi :-) I love your creative style and you just found another fan to your addition! I can't wait to know more of The Gift!

  15. Mallory, hahhaha yes I think I may try your suggestions! It may work but... my lil boy wakes up earlier than me. Perhaps I should camp inside my kitchen??? :-O

  16. This must be very tasty, it can tells by the look!

  17. This looks really delicious! Great pictures!

  18. Hello Pixen :)

    I read your comments today. They ere all lovely and encouraging dear. You made me feel better and happy :)

    The date isn't arranged properly yet hoever the wedding will be on May. Better before hot summer, and after colds of winter huh? :)

    I'm so impatient to share all photos about that special day of mine with you all my friends.

    Thanks again, and hugs!

  19. This one looks like chicken rendang but whatever it is called, it looks yummy! I can smell and taste the kaffir lime already.


  20. chinese new year, that will be brilliant!!! take lots of photos and post them all! i wanna see! and enter one in Click!!

    hope you have a nice week too :)

  21. Hi Pixen, your chicken curry look yummy! I like curry and will try your recipe one day.

  22. Pixen,

    Tonight, I tried your 'Curry Chicken in Kaffir Lime Leaves' recipe and it was delicious. Both my husband and I loved it. I found fresh lime leaves at the regular market I shop (they don't always have them; they're hit or miss), but then I found kaffir lime leaves in a jar. I don't know the difference between regular lime leaves and kaffir lime leaves, so I thought I'll try the kaffir lime leaves in a jar rather than the fresh regular lime leaves. I also couldn't find fresh galangal, so I also bought the minced galangal in a jar. Even with that, it turned out really good. We ate it with coconut rice which I made from my Thai cookbook. Thank you for sharing and I'll be making this again!

    Hope you're having a great week.

  23. Merhaba Nihal,
    Thank you so much for trying out this recipe and I'm so happy that you and your husband loved it.

    I want to know if the kaffir lime leaves you bought is dried? Kaffir lime leaves are stronger and more fragrant than key lime leaves for example. Even the Yuzu leaves lose out to Kaffir Leaves :-D I can proved that because I have 2 still-growing Yuzu and 5 Kaffir Lime saplings in my pot. Also 1 sapling of Curry Leaves which I grown from seeds.

    Thank you again for trying out the recipe.

  24. Pixen, actually they (the kaffir lime leaves) were preserved in a jar. Thanks for explaning the difference between the regular lime leave and kaffir lime leaves. I am sure fresh would have tasted better, but I never got to go to the Thai store which is a little far. But it still was very good. Thank you for sharing the recipe.



    1. Nihal, I had seen preserved Kaffir Lime leaves... the taste is a bit off but we have to make what we can find. If you can find the fruit, you can plant them from seeds. My trees are grown from seeds and usually it took couple of weeks to germinate and likes warm places and not too sunny.

  25. I will definitely try this recipe one day. I think Indonesia has a similar recipe like this one. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Probably, as my home country just across Malacca Straits from North Sumatera :-D

  26. It looks good! I think the kaffir lime leaves make a big difference!

  27. Gorgeous! I love kaffir lime. All the flavors in this one are wonderful!

  28. Merhaba,
    Chickhen is my favorite... Very savory.

  29. Where in belgium does one get Kefir Lime leaves ?

    1. Hi Danny, if you're in Brussels, go to Thai Supermarket @ Rue Sainte-Catherine 3, 1000 Brussels, Belgium. Another place is Kam Yuen Supermarket @ Rue de la Vierge Noire 2-4, 1000 Bruxelles. Both places are not far from each other by feet.

      Whenever, I have the opportunities, Thai Supermarket has more choices of hard to find herbs and spices like Krachai, Fresh Green Pepper, Cha Om, Stinky beans, Wild betel/pepper leaves (Kaduk (Malay), Bai Cha Plu (Thai)) but you need to check with the staffs if there's no stock or when new batch comes in. Once I had to wait 2 weeks for Pandan Leaves via Paris!

      Kam Yuen has some of Southeast Asian produce but more of the Chinese stuffs.

      I hope that helps... as you didn't mention which part of Belgium, I assumed you're in Brussels. :-)


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