Malaysian Tomato Chicken Curry & Coconut Rice

Sunday’s are often extravagant cooking days in our house. Judd and I like to take a leisurely stroll through the market picking up items to make a new and adventurous meal for dinner. On this particular Sunday, we headed to an asian market on Clement Street to pick up the necessary supplies for this Malaysian Curry. Thinking we would be hungry slaving over the stove, we popped into a dim sum joint and noshed on a few sesame balls and BBQ pork buns! Nomtastic! With our energy restored, we set to the task at hand… Tomato Chicken Curry with Coconut Rice.

This curry began with a twist. We first needed to make the chili paste that would later be added to our rich sauce. While Judd cubed the chicken (that’s typically a Judd job), I set to work seeding hot chillis while trying to remind myself not to rub my eyes (I accidentally touched my face and felt the burn for the better part of an hour). The chili paste was easy to make; toss red onion, dried red chillis, fresh red chillis, garlic, lemongrass and oil into a food processor and pulverize into a delightfully spicy paste. We made loads extra and now have it on hand whenever we need to add a little kick to a dish. While the chicken was marinating away in a medley of warm and salty flavors, we began the rice.

Oh the rice. So simple and amazingly delicious. The coconut milk infused each rice grain with a punch of flavor and a ton of creaminess. Occasionally nibbling on a pocket of shredded coconut, I decided I was in the love with this dish. Alongside the tomato-y citrus sauce, this rice offers the perfect balance of sweet against a salty and spicy main course. Topped with fried shallots, the rice became crazy good. That’s right… it was crazy how good it tasted!

Back to the curry… with the chicken lightly cooked, we started the tomato based curry that would soon engulf these little nuggets of meat. Tomato sauce, tomato paste and sweet soy sauce gave the curry a richness and wonderful deep red color. Once we glopped in the chili paste, the flavors began to intensify. Finally, the juice of a lime cut through the tomato flavor and added hints of tropical citrus notes.

Good Sunday dinner. Happy Judd & Estee.

Makes 4-6 servings (with rice)

Tomato Chicken Curry

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, diced into pieces

Marinade

1 tablespoon tumeric powder
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon salt
A few shakes of ground white pepper

Chilli Paste

10 dried red chillis, deseeded
10 fresh red chillis, deseeded
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, chopped
1 tablespoon of oil

*Note: you might not need all of it if you’re like me and can’t handle too much spice. The rest can stored in a jar in a fridge for your future cooking.

Curry

1 onions, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
4 ounces tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon kecap manis
2 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces chicken stock
4 kaffir lime leaves (I used the juice of 1 lime)

Method

Combine the chicken with the marinade ingredients, stir and set aside for an hour.

Meanwhile combine chilli paste ingredients in a food processor and set aside. This can be made in advance and stored in a glass jar in the fridge.

Heat up some peanut oil in a wok or pan over high heat. Brown the marinated chicken in 2 or 3 batches until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside. Add more oil if you need to, then the finely diced onions, garlic, ginger and about 2 heaped tablespoons of chilli paste (or to taste). Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, kecap manis, sugar, stock and kaffir lime leaves, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to develop the flavors. Add the sliced onions and simmer for a few minutes more. Add the browned chicken and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is coated and has absorbed all the flavours. Add more stock or water if the sauce starts to dry out during cooking.

Serve with coconut rice (recipe below)

Coconut Rice

1 1/2 cups brown jasmine or basmati rice
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons dry shredded coconut (baking type)
1 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
Fried shallots

Rub the oil over the bottom of a regular-sized pot. Add the rice, coconut milk, water, salt, and shredded coconut. Stir and set over high heat. Bring to a bubbling, but not rolling, boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and cover tightly with a lid. Allow to cook for 1 hour, or until the coconut-water has been absorbed by the rice. When all (or nearly all) of the coconut-water is gone, turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner (covered). Allow the rice to sit for another 5-10 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and top with fried shallots. Enjoy.

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