The Narnia Curry

Never fear, we didn’t discover this curry in the back of a wardrobe behind a bunch of fur coats – we’re just ignorant westerners who can’t pronounce Nonya correctly. However, walking into an asian shop trying to find the appropriate ingredients is (for us) a little bit like a trip to Cair Paravel.

This curry is dead easy to make and has a brilliant flavour payoff; an ideal comfort meal for a cold, rainy spring day.

Malaysian Nonya Chicken Curry


[This recipe serves four, unless those four are all on diets in which case it serves six comfortably.]

You will need:
For the Curry Paste
2 red onions, chopped
4 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 stems of lemon grass, white part only, sliced
3cm x 2cm galangal, peeled and sliced
8 kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp shrimp paste (DO NOT SMELL)

2 tbsp oil
750 g chicken breast, chopped into bite-size cubes
400ml coconut milk
3 tbsp tamarind puree
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
250g perfume rice – NOT BASMATI or the rice fairies (i.e. number One) will haunt your dreams for using the WRONG rice

  1. To make the curry paste, blend all the ingredients in a food processor and process to a thick paste. No matter what, do NOT smell the shrimp paste. Now you’ve smelled it, haven’t you? We warned you. Do not panic, it will not be so overpowering once cooked. If it’s still chunky, add some water and process some more.
  2. Heat oil in the wok. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and stir fry with the paste for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, tamarind puree and fish sauce to the wok. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is tender. You might need to add some more coconut milk depending on how spicy you like your curry.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, make rice according to package instructions.
  6. Serve with rice and garnish with the shredded lime leaves.

One two three four – SCORE
[Numerical ratings are out of four, where four is best/healthiest/hardest.]
Taste: 3.75; three of us gave it a 4: FLAVOUR EXPLOSION whereas one of us only rated it with 3. It’s kind of a polarising curry. There was a lot of shouting over this rating…
Difficulty: 1 – the hardest part of this recipe is getting the paste ingredients to whizz properly.
Healthiness: 3.5 generally healthy bar the coconut milk.
Tummy Friendliness: TBC, but previous experience indicates a turbulent night ahead. So worth it!
Accessibility: Depending where you live it might be difficult to get these exotic ingredients  (tamarind puree, lime leaves, shrimp paste). Consider it a chance to bond with the owner of your local asian foods store.
Cost: The exotic ingredients will probably serve to ratchet the price up, even though none of them are expensive in and of themselves.
Overall: 3.9 only because number Four did not have a taste explosion in her mouth. Shame on her really.




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