Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Literary Curry

If you picked up the free copy of MPH's Quill magazine, you will have read my interview with Janet de Neefe, who founded the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival. Janet and her husband Ketut Suardana run two of Bali's most famous restaurants, Casa Luna of Ubud and Indus of Campuan, (website here) as well as Honeymoon Guesthouse where regular cookery classes are held. Janet is also the author of Fragrant Rice: My Continuing Love Affair with Bali published by Harper Collins Australia.

Sadly, there was one question that had to be cut due to space constraints, and since I asked it for you, I append it here because this dish is absolutely yummy!:

Could you give us a typical Balinese recipe that our Malaysian readers might enjoy?

KARE AYAM
Chicken curry

Probably the most wonderful aspect of making a curry is the heavenly aromas that drift through the house when food is being prepared. Balinese chicken curry is lighter than its Indian counterpart. You can also replace the chicken with any other meat, fish or vegetable.

For maximum flavour, I always use chicken thigh or leg with the bone for a curry. However, you can use chicken breast or boned meat if you prefer. Use fresh galangal and turmeric for this dish as the flavour, aroma and texture will be far superior to the powdered varieties.

Serves 3-4

750 g chicken pieces
1-2 cups coconut milk
5 tbs oil for frying
1 lemongrass
3 salam leaves (These are a kind of Indonesian bay leaves)
4 lime leaves
sea salt
2 tsp tamarind

Spices:

5 small red shallots
7 small cloves garlic
3 large red chilli
2-3 bird's-eye chillies
1 tbs ginger
3 tbs galangal
3 candlenut
1 tbs fresh turmeric
½ tomato 2 stalks of lemongrass
1/4 tsp shrimp paste
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cumin (opt)
1 tbs palm sugar

Blend all the spices in the container of a food processor until paste-like. Add a little water if necessary. Bruise the extra lemon grass and tie into a loose knot.

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium flame. Throw in the spices, lemongrass, lime leaves and salam leaves. Push them back and forth confidently for 30 seconds until fragrant and shiny, making sure they don’t burn on the base of the wok. Add the chicken and toss around until sealed or half-cooked. This will take at least two minutes. Add two cups of water and boil for about fifteen minutes or until the meat is cooked. Now add the final layer of coconut milk.

Bring to the boil, simmer for a minute and then turn off.

Check seasonings and serve topped with shallots. Add sea salt to taste.

Alternatives:

Potatoes, beans, or carrots may be added, or tempe/tofu may be used as a meat substitute.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

My stomach's growling now!

- Poppadumdum

Jane Sunshine said...

yummmm.....

The Snail said...

I'm very tempted to try this recipe, but because I'd just turned vegetarian, it will have to be mock chicken curry for me :)

RK Boo said...

Yum yum. I love curries. :-) Btw Sharon, I can't find the comment I left on one of your blog posts a few weeks ago. I was asking for your email address as the mail I'd sent to the streamyx one listed on your blog bounced back.

Also, I'm wondering if there's a possibility of you featuring a review of the Young Women Speak Out book edited by Alina Rastam, and also making a small announcement of our exciting WWRP 6 workshop on Nov 13-16? :-)

Su-Lyn

Anonymous said...

Much too sensitive for curries.

bibliobibuli said...

rk boo - email me at sharonbakar@yahoo.com and i'll see how i can help you

dear snail - maybe you could just use tahoo and tempe in place of the meat, and good on you becoming vegetarian

Yusuf/Martin said...

Sad to say it is damn difficult to pick up Quill magazine, free or otherwise out here in Perak.

I went to MPH today and they didn't have any copies.

thegrouch said...

Thanks for the heads up on the interview. I've been a fan of Ms de Neefe since reading her book a couple years ago.

Anonymous said...

Y/M:

No one will help you. I don't have one myself, otherwise I would (isn't that what people always say? If I had a million dollars I'd give it to you.. but if they suddenly did come across a million.. well..everyone must believe all people are good and kind and generous, so if I ever get one it's yours.)

Anonymous said...

Etiquette rule: when we have guests over for a meal, and one of them is a vegetarian, we always have to have a special vegetarian dish. But when a non-vegetarian is invited to a vegetarian's place for a meal, why is this courtesy almost NEVER reciporated by having a meat dish? If I, a non-veg, tell the veg-host, "Sorry, I can't eat vegetables...It's against my beliefs" ?

- PPDD

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Why is that? if you don't or can't eat vegetables or grain or whatever, they should have meat.

It's a bit like a religion, it has something to do with how it's perfectly permissible to completely savage a movie star, but it's not acceptable to do the same to a poor old man. Or how we keep at politicians to tell the truth, but we lie all the time. Somehow vegetarians are "above" omnivores like poor old men are "above" movie stars.

What is it that causes this unequality? why do people feel that way? is it possible that people want to build a "matrix" that shields them from reality until they pass on (after which they presumably don't have to do that any more?)

Chet said...

Yusuf - this Ubud issue of Quill magazine is only available in certain MPH outlets, as indicated in Sharon's earlier Ubud Quill posting.

The Snail said...

Eh? How did that become a contentious issue?! I wasn't trying to be sanctimonious nor was I trying to advocate vegetarianism to others. It's a personal choice for pete's sake! Lighten up and eat a ham sandwich why don't you. Better yet, let me make one and serve it to you on a silver platter. Jeez...

Anonymous said...

The Mock Chicken, wasn't he in that book ? :)

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." -- Anne Frank

So since people are really good at heart (and that's something you must believe in) I'm sure someone will send you a copy.

Anonymous said...

Snail,

Wasn't directed at you, but at the inequality I see practised on non-vegs...
I prefer a bacon sandwich :-)

The Snail said...

Do I believe people are good at heart?

Judging by how personal this is getting dear Anon, and dreading the fact that I might actually know you, or if that "goodness" should also apply to you...

Then my answer is no.

- s.nizam

The Snail said...

What inequality are you talking about? Who's judging non-vegetarians?
(Who on earth am I responding to?).

The problem is, you don't even know why I chose to become a vegetarian. People are motivated by different things (and I'm darn sure you're aware of this).

You assume too much. Peace.

s.nizam

Anonymous said...

PPDD and Anonymous -- I'm not really vegetarian anymore but I was for about 15 years, so I'll try to answer PPDD's original question: I think if someone had had an *ethical* objection to eating vegetables or grain (or even if they couldn't eat vegetables or ANY grain for health reasons) I would have found a way to make them something they could eat if they were coming to eat at my house. I've never heard of such an ethical objection though. Most people become vegetarian because they oppose factory farming (which I still oppose, by the way) or are uncomfortable with taking the lives of animals. What is your ethical reason for *having* to eat meat at every meal? I'm sure if you present a convincing reason, many vegetarians would be willing to accommodate your needs.

[To be fair, agriculture -- even the planting and harvesting of grain and vegetables -- kills lots of animals. Soy and corn are hugely problematic crops for environmental and other reasons. Actually the method of feeding yourself that takes the *least* lives is hunting and gathering, and/or growing your own food for your family's consumption. Didn't this come up here before? We really should all become hunters and gatherers!]

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

All I'm asking is, shouldn't the same consideration be given to meat-eaters as to vegetarians when it comes to invitations to meals?

Does a vegetarian host, when cooking for a dinner party, think, Oh dear, this twat Poppadumdum needs his meat. I'll have to have one meaty dish cooked for him (or buy from a burger...)

- Poppadumdum

Yusuf said...

Someone I knew - an Indian woman in Kedah used to make the most delicious goat curry I have ever tasted. Sadly she is gone now.

But my wife made me her chicken curry before we married and I always say that it was that chicken curry which won my heart. There is another version of this story but its a little rude, nudge, nudge, wink, wink

Yusuf said...

ps I'm with Preeta on the whole ethical issue.

Anonymous said...

Janet de Neefe seems to have a great combination going - food and writing...in Bali. Some people have their cake and get to eat it too, in her case she probably made her own cake. Fantastic.

Anonymous said...

But Poppadumdum, when you say you "need" your meat, don't you mean you just *like* it? What's your ethical/philosophical reason for needing meat at every meal? If you felt you were going against your principles by eating vegetables, *then* I think a vegetarian host should make you meat. Convince me and I'll tell the world :-) .

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Preeta,

:-) Yeah, I like my meat and my ethical/philsophical (if you can call it that :-)) ) reason is solely that, if non-vegetarians have to make concessions to vegetarians when inviting them over for a meal, then the same consideration should be returned by vegetarians when inviting non-vegetarians.

- Poppadumdum

Anonymous said...

Poppadumdum, I definitely see where you're coming from because, actually, one of the reasons I'm *not* vegetarian anymore is that I live in a country where being vegetarian can begin to seem like a social imposition, and a refusal to try to accommodate to my "host" culture. Therefore, I'm more flexible these days. I decided that telling someone I refused to experience the most cherished parts of their culture -- which seemed to hurt their feelings -- was also against my moral code :-) . But I still don't buy factory-farmed meat or cook it myself.

Even when I was vegetarian, I either brought a dish to share (if I knew the main dish was going to be meat) or I managed with side dishes (salads etc.). I think this is true of most vegetarians, that the last thing they want is to be inconveniencing their host. I just didn't want my host buying more meat than was necessary, because as far as I was concerned the less meat purchased the better, so I would tell them in advance that I wasn't going to be eating the meat.

That said, the non-vegetarian's "concession" to the vegetarian-- buying and preparing vegetables -- is something the nonvegetarian willingly does anyway, on a regular basis (if he or she wants to be healthy -- I've never heard of anyone surviving long on an all-meat, no-fibre diet :-) ). The non-vegetarian can buy and prepares vegetables without compromising his or her moral values; the same cannot be said of a vegetarian who has to buy meat for his or her non-vegetarian guests. The vegetarian *never* buys meat or cooks it, because he/she is opposed to it for whatever reason. That's the difference.

As for this lovely chicken curry recipe -- *if* we could all make it with the meat of free-range chickens we had raised ourselves and then slaughtered quickly and humanely, just think, wouldn't that be a better world?

I say we solve all this by just eating ais kacang instead (no sweetcorn, I don't like it either!).


-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Preeta,

True lah, what you say :-)))

Glad that somebody else doesn't like sweetcorn either!

- Poppadumdum

The Snail said...

Well, I don't usually cook for guests, be they vegetarian or non-vegetarian. So if I ever have to invite you, Ppdm, then you'll have to make do with a bucket of KFC plus a free 1.5 liter bottle of Pepsi.

And yes, only paper cups and plates, unless you think this is wasteful and bad for the environment, or that Colonel Sanders is the devil himself, eh?

Do cook yourself some chicken curry and have a good day.

bibliobibuli said...

sham cooks chicken deliciously even though she's a vegetarian. maybe you just have the wrong friend ppdd!

and yes, leave the snail alone and let him munch his lettuce quietly, carnivores, without being unkind to vegetarians.

we would be a lot kinder to the earth if we ate less meat. methane is a major cause of global warming.

Anonymous said...

Instead of that bloody ISA, there should be a law against sweetcorn in ais kacang! Who the hell started putting it in in the first place, anyway? Way back when, ais kacang used to be just ice, syrup, red beans, and grass jelly. A scoop of ice cream if you wanted it. Now they put the whole kitchen sink in there -- hearts of palm lah, sweet corn lah, fruit cocktail lah, can't they just stick to the original recipe?!?

My mother will always ask us to order her ice kacang with only the original ingredients. One time, when I was telling the man, "Jagung tak mahu, cendol tak mahu, attap chee tak mahu," he got so exasperated he looked up and yelled at me, "YOU PUNYA AIS KACANG, AIS PUN TAMAU KAH?"

-- Preeta

bibliobibuli said...

i like sweetcrn in ice kacang but don't like the red beans. there should be more peanuts and palm seeds.

oh and i love the indonesian versions esp "es teler" with jackfruit and avacado

Chet said...

I like the red beans and grass jelly, don't mind the sweetcorn, but don't like the nuts. I love the attap chee. I also like just plain ais kacang merah.

Nuts should be eaten on their own.

Anonymous said...

Ais kacang merah is pretty good.. it would be cool to find a way for the ais kacang not to melt in a slimy puddle after a while, wouldn't it ?

bibliobibuli said...

i think there should be a law against people who share your ice kacang insisting on mashing it all up to slush first. (no names mentioned). it should be eaten from the ice downwards.

Anonymous said...

What I find hard to swallow is the condensed milk poured on ice kacang...Ugh!

Love the red beans and atapchee...

- Poppadumdum

Anonymous said...

You have the right not to share your ice kacang! Ask them to get their own damn bowl.

-- PS