(THE NEW PAPER) - An obstacle to eating home-cooked food on weekdays is that you may not have enough time or energy to muck about in the kitchen.
So here is a solution to let you relish your own cooking on a weekday. This week's recipe for assam chicken has no coconut milk and is suitable for keeping to eat a few days later.
Cook it on a weekend and let it keep in the fridge to make a lovely main course on a Monday or even a Tuesday.
The rempah or spice paste is fairly straightforward.
Pandan leaves, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric leaves add fragrance, but if you have no time to look around for it, you can drop the last of these.
Turmeric leaves are not easily found in wet markets and I have yet to see them sold at a supermarket. That is why I grow my own.
I use organic coconut oil as it gives the rich aroma of coconut and does a pretty good job of standing in for coconut milk.
My recipe is strong on the sour and sweet notes. You can cut back on the assam if you prefer less tang and reduce the amount of sugar accordingly.
4 garlic cloves
8 dried chillies (15g), soaked and softened
10g fresh turmeric, chopped
15g galangal, chopped
15g ginger, chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, remove outer layers, use 5cm of the root, slice finely
3 buah keras (candlenuts)
1 tsp ground coriander
6 Tbs coconut oil
Half a large chicken or one small chicken (850g), cut into large pieces (around 5cm by 7cm)
100g assam jawa (tamarind pulp)
6 pandan leaves, knotted
8 kaffir lime leaves
1 turmeric leaf, torn
2½ tsp sugar
2 Tbs light soya sauce
1 Tbs fish sauce
½ tsp salt
1. Make the rempah (spice paste): Grind the shallots, garlic, dried chillies, turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemongrass, buah keras and ground coriander using a blender, with a little water for smoother blending.
2. Heat 3 Tbs coconut oil in a non-stick pan. Fry the rempah for 15 minutes over low heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Rinse and dry the chicken. Marinate the chicken with the assam jawa and rempah. Wear gloves to massage the paste into the chicken. Cover the dish with cling wrap and place it in the fridge to marinate, preferably overnight or at least for three hours.
4. Remove the chicken from the fridge and let it warm to near room temperature.
5. Heat the pan or wok with the remaining 3 Tbs of coconut oil.
6. Fry the marinated chicken for five minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the water gradually and stir.
7. Add the knotted pandan leaves, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric leaf .
8. Cover and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
9. Season with sugar, light soya sauce, fish sauce and salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
10. Turn off the heat. Serve hot with rice.