You might be wondering what is the difference between Ayam Kari Kapitan and the ubiquitous chicken curry that we are all familiar with? Well, in short, this curry is made without curry powder and instead of curry leaves, its fragrance is accentuated by Kaffir lime leaves and calamansi lime juice.
I have been wanting to make this dish ever since I tasted Baba Bento’s version of it. It’s mild, creamy, coconutty and citrussy gravy goes so well with crusty French loaf or rice! There are many different versions online, but I managed to get this recipe from the guru of peranakan cuisine, Chef Damian D’Silva himself!
In this post, I re-create his recipe ad hoc. The only thing I did was to add a bit of sugar at the end as I liked it a little sweeter. I have tried to include all the tips he shared with me in the post so that you can also make a super shiok curry!
Shallot 200g (peeled weight)
Oil 3/4 cup (Peanut oil adds extra fragrance)
Chicken whole 1.4kg (Kampung chicken is preferred)
Coconut milk 250ml + 250ml water (first part)
Coconut milk 125ml (2nd part)
Kaffir lime leaves 5 leaves (each leaf is 2 lobes) (remove midrib and crush)
Calamansi lime juice 1 Tbsp
Fried shallots and coriander for garnishing
1. Process rempah ingredients till well blended.
2. Add rempah and oil into pot and fry at medium heat. Volume of oil should be half that of rempah.
3. Fry at medium heat for approx 20mins until oil separates and rempah is darker in colour and the fragrance fills the kitchen
4. Add chicken pieces and fry for 15 mins
5. Add coconut and water and simmer for 20mins or until chicken is tender.
6. Add thick coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, calanansi lime juice and season with salt and sugar to taste. Simmer for 10 mins and leave in the pot to rest for 20mins (or overnight even better!)
7. Garnish with fried shallots and coriander leaves!
If you really want to go the whole hog, you can pound your rempah ingredients with a pestle and mortar. That will give you a really smooth rempah and pounding helps to release oils from the spices! I sometimes use a electric stone grinder. If you only have a food processer than, it will work fine too. Just make sure you blend it till it is smooth. You can add oil to the rempah to make it easier to blend.
You will need to add enough oil such that the rempah is bubbling away. Even if you use a non-stick pot, you will need to add enough oil so that it bubbles. The volume of oil is about half that of the rempah. Curry is not healthy food. If you don’t have enough oil, it will not taste good. You need to stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn.
After about twenty minutes of frying, the oil should have separated and the rempah turn darker in colour.
Add the chicken and continue to fry for 15mins.
Add coconut milk and water and simmer gently for 20 mins. You want the coconut milk to “break” and release its oil.
After 20 mins it should look like this.
Add thick coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and season. If you want to add potatoes, you can boil them separately and add them now. Simmer for 10 more minutes and let the curry rest.
This is the exact amount of rempah ingredients for your reference
Chef Damian’s tip: Remove all the dry outer layers of the lemongrass till you get only the white parts.
You want big pieces of chicken so that it can cook longer without disintegrating. This chicken is cut into 10 pieces.