Like last year, I cooked a pot of Chicken Curry with Potatoes as one of my contributed dishes for the Reunion Table in Ipoh. Although the chicken curry was well received last year, my husband did comment that it didn't quite taste like the one we had at Ratha Raub (and I agreed coz I know I didn't follow the ratio of chicken to curry paste to the tee).
So, this year, I tweaked the recipe a bit in the hope that it'll taste closer to the chicken curry we tasted at Ratha Raub. And here were the changes I made.
1. I blended 15 shallots and sauteed them in a little oil to start with. This I hoped will give the curry that extra fragrance. This extra step was not included in my previous chicken curry.
2. I followed the ratio of chicken (400g) to curry paste (150g or one packet) more closely. The weight of the chicken I bought was closer to 1.2kg this time. The chicken was a huge 1.8kg previously.
3. I decided to not follow the ratio of water to paste and reduced amount of water used to 750ml for three packets of paste this time. The instruction on the packet was 375ml to one packet of curry paste.
4. I cooked the chicken for 15 minutes before putting in the potatoes to cook for a further 10 minutes. I dumped in everything (the chicken and potatoes) at the same time previously.
I then stirred in two packets of santan + the curry leaves in the final 2 - 3 minutes of cooking. At this stage, do a taste test to ensure the seasoning is to your liking (I didn't need to add anything). This time round, I think it turned out better...the chicken was more tender, the potatoes not overly soft and the curry was thicker and more flavourful (compared to last year's).
So, I'll stick to this recipe in future if I want to make this again. Although it still didn't taste 100% like the one from Ratha Raub, the taste was much closer and it's the best I can do. I guess they can't give out all their 'secrets' in their paste, otherwise no-one will eat at their restaurant as they can just buy the paste and cook it at home...haha! ;D
But the chicken curry was not the only thing I cooked this year for the Reunion Dinner. I also improvised and made a Mixed Vegetable Curry using Ratha Raub's Fish Curry Paste.
I started by sauteeing 15 shallots (blended) in a little oil until fragrant. I then added two packets of fish curry paste and 600ml of water.
I set the timer for 30 minutes and simmered the contents for 5 minutes to let the paste and water come together.
Next, go in the vegetables but not all at once (this is a common mistake by many) since not all vegetables soften at the same time. It's best to start with the harder and sturdier vegetables first and end with those that soften quickly. I started with the long beans first at the 25-minute mark (I used 10 long beans cut into 2-inch lengths).
After 5 minutes, the cabbage went in next (1/2 a cabbage roughly cut into bite-sized pieces). Leave them simmering with the lid off.
At the 15-minute mark, I added the brinjal (one big brinjal cut into 2-inch lengths as well). Try to refrain from adding water as the vegetables (when cooked down) do release water.
I cooked that for a further 5 minutes before throwing in the ladies fingers (10 ladies fingers cut into two).
For the final 5 minutes, I added the tomatoes (3 tomatoes cut into six), tofu puffs (1 packet of 10 pieces cut into two), santan and curry leaves. At this point, I tasted the curry and found it to be a little sourish (as fish curry usually is), so I added 1/2 a tbsp of sugar.
Check that the softness of vegetables are at the level you want...and the Mixed Vegetable Curry is done :)
If you're preparing this ahead of time, you might want to shorten the cooking time so that the vegetables will not be overly soft when you reheat them later for serving.
But I know there are some of us who like the vegetables in their vegetable curry to be really soft (and I'm one of them). Some even like it after a few rounds of reheating....if there's any left to reheat, that is ;)
The vegetables lend some sweetness to the curry and they taste delicious after soaking up all that gravy! ^o^
If you're looking for something fail-proof and easy to cook, this is it. A big pot of this can feed a lot of people.
After the photography session (hehe!), it was time to pack up my Mixed Vegetable Curry and put it in the fridge.