Sumatran Style Chicken Curry, Basil Tofu, and Spicy Greens

These are recipes from the book “Cradle of Flavor” by James Oseland. I really love Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean food. It’s rare that I want to make every single recipe in a cookbook, but I may eventually do just that with this one.

West Sumatran Style Chicken Curry (serves 4):

Flavoring Paste:

  • 2 tsp whole coriander
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 entire nutmeg, cracked
  • seeds from 6 cardamoms, hulls discarded
  • 3 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 20 fresh Thai chiles
  • 2 inches ginger
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 2 inches fresh tumeric



  • 2 1/2 lb chicken parts, bone-in
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 inch each
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tied in a knot
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 daun salam leaves
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste

To make the seasoning paste, crush together all dry spices, or grind in a spice grinder. Place in food processor with remaining ingredients (all peeled where appropriate), blend until mostly smooth paste forms.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or saucepan. Fry the seasoning paste in the oil on medium-low. When fragrant and the paste begins to separate from the oil (5-7 min), add the cinnamon, lemongrass, lime leaves, and daun salam. Continue cooking until fragrances of these ingredients are released, a minute or two. Add the chicken and raise heat to medium. Saute the chicken in the paste, continue stirring and flipping until the chicken is golden brown all over. Add 1 cup coconut milk, water, and salt. Let simmer uncovered until chicken is cooked through, 40-50 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Add remaining coconut milk when chicken is done and simmer for 5 minutes. Dish becomes more flavorful after sitting for 20 minutes off heat.

Simple Greens with Garlic and Chile (serves 4):

  • about 1 lb Asian greens of any type (bok choy, choy sum, gai lan, etc)
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, bruised then chopped
  • 5 fresh Thai chiles
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Heat oil in a wok on medium heat. Fry garlic, chiles, and salt until garlic turns golden. Add greens, turn up heat, and cook until wilted but not entirely limp. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Fried Tofu Sambal with Basil (serves 4):

  • 1 lb fried tofu, cubed or sliced
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp paste (optional)
  • 4 shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 10 fresh Thai chiles
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup Thai basil or lemon basil leaves

Heat the oil over medium heat. Form the shrimp paste into a disk, then fry until turning slightly browned. Remove and reserve the oil. Make a paste with the shrimp paste, shallots, garlic, chiles, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Reheat the oil, and fry the paste  until most liquid in it has evaporated. Gently fry the tofu in the paste until cut edges become golden. Fold in the basil leaves.


About tandooritaco

This is a blog about food.
This entry was posted in chicken, southeast asian, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian. Bookmark the permalink.

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