Chef's Recipes

Malay fried chicken with curry leaves

Malaysia's take on fried chicken involves the distinctive fragrance imparted by curry leaves as well as a spicy tamarind syrup to coat the chicken.

By Tony Tan
  • Serves 4
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking plus marinating
Malay fried chicken with curry leaves

"Used extensively in South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, fresh curry leaves (Murraya koenigii) are now common in many Asian markets, even supermarkets" says Tan. "They are used in several Malaysian dishes including this fried chicken to impart a distinctive fragrance. For something different, substitute Thai basil or pandan leaves."

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1.5 kg chicken drumsticks, halved through the bone (see note)
  • 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh curry leaves
  • 30 gm tamarind pulp, soaked in ½ cup hot water
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 long green chilli (optional), seeds removed and thinly sliced, to serve
  • Lime wedges, to serve
Spice paste
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 golden shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 15 gm (3cm piece) ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 3 long red chillies, coarsely chopped

Method

  • 1
    Pound garlic and turmeric with 1 tsp fine salt, or to taste, to a smooth paste with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a snap-lock bag, add chicken and seal. Massage chicken well and refrigerate to marinate (30 minutes, or overnight).
  • 2
    For spice paste, pound ingredients with a mortar and pestle or blend in a food processor to a fine paste.
  • 3
    Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat to 180°C. Fry chicken in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (7-8 minutes; be careful, hot oil may spit). Drain on paper towels. Strain oil into a heatproof bowl and reserve.
  • 4
    Wipe wok clean and return to medium-high heat. Add 250ml reserved oil and heat to 170°C. Fry curry leaves until crisp (a matter of seconds; curry leaves will spit, so use a lid to prevent oil splashing) and drain on paper towels.
  • 5
    In the same oil, add spice paste and fry, stirring frequently, until soft and aromatic (4-5 minutes). Mash tamarind with a fork (discard seeds) and add to pan with sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer over low heat until syrupy (2-3 minutes). Add chicken and stir to heat through (1-2 minutes). Check seasoning, then transfer to a bowl. Top with crisp curry leaves and chilli and serve with lime wedges.

Notes

Use a sharp heavy knife or cleaver to halve the drumsticks, or ask the butcher to cut them for you.
Drink suggestion: Hoppy IPA. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.

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  • Author: Tony Tan