Ok, so I'm taking a lot of license in calling this dish Asam Masak Merah. The traditional dish is usually prepared for special occasions like EID as part of a feast, it's spicy, crunchy, creamy and smells divine. My version is a creamier version, still with all the lovely fragrance and spice of the original, prepared quickly and served with lashings of spicy creamy sauce to spoon over the rice or mop up with flaky roti bread.
I've tweaked the recipe a little to make it easier to prepare, and most importantly I don't deep-fry the chicken first, which is the traditional way of preparing the chicken, and by far the tastiest as well - but adds a bit of time to preparing the dish. Don't shoot the messenger if this isn't what you're used to in this dish, but do try it as it's one of my favourite Malay curries.
I love cooking curries using chicken on the bone - the chicken stays moist and the marrow in the bone infuses a wonderfully earthy chicken flavour into the dish. Lately, I've taken it one step further and use a whole chicken which I cut up myself - finding good quality chicken pieces in Doha is not easy, and chopping the chicken makes me feel quite 'chefy' and a brings out the inner Hunter Gatherer in me.
Asam Masak Merah
Curry Chicken in a Tomato Sauce
- 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 10 large dried red chillies, soaked in water
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 large shallots, peeled and halved
- 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2cm piece of galangal, peeled and sliced (optional)
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, inner white bits only, chopped roughly
- 5cm cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 4 cardamom pods, bruised
- 420 gram can chopped tomatoes
- 420 gram can coconut milk
- Rub the chicken pieces with the turmeric and salt and set aside for 30 minutes
- Pop soaked chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal and lemongrass into food processor with a little oil and blitz until it becomes a paste (alternatively use a mortar and pestle)
- Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium high heat. Cook the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise for a few minutes until fragrant, add curry paste and cook until paste changes colour and oil starts to separate from the mixture.
- Add chicken pieces and brown in the spices on both sides to seal
- Add tomatoes and coconut cream, turn to low, and simmer on low heat covered for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked, stirring occasionally
- Serve with roti and rice