Does a bowl of rice brings back memories of the past?
Even until now, though I’m on my crazy workout regime and trying to eliminate carbs from my diet, I find it a challenge not to rain my steaming bowl of rice with some thick fragrant curries or the chinese soy braised sauce.
And eating only the dishes during a typical “tai chou” dinner is just so wrong. Steamed fish, curries, stir fried vegetables.. all of these calls for rice!
So what does a bowl of rice reminds you of? My fondest memory would be my grandmother’s chicken curry. Oh, I can still visualize it now.
It would be cooked in a old claypot, black with frequent use. The curry, absolutely aromatic and thick, redolent with spices and richly creamy would be a vibrant golden reddish in hue.
It was a recipe never replicated. I had always intended to, but it’s difficult since she had passed away. While she was cooking it back then, I was a mere toddler. I helped to hand-pound the spices and chillies and garlic and shallots into a fine paste.
I stood over the stove to pass each ingredient to her and I watched her toil over the stove as she painstakingly stir, smell and meticulously tested the curry until it tasted exactly the way she likes it.
It had became the yardstick of how we like our chicken curries too. And remained how I like my chicken curry until today.
I tried cooking a pot of chicken curry over the CNY weekend since it was the holiday season and I thought I’ll try to get some cooking done. Well it’s part of my 2014 “resolution” anyway – to begin preparing my meals at home.
From my recent trip to Melaka I managed to get some homemade curry powder from Karen’s aunty.
Since then Karen and I had been itching to try it out. We got together one day to cook 2 whole chickens using the powder and her aunty’s recipe.
1. Measure the curry powder according to the number of chickens to cook.
2. Get the wet spices (onion, ginger, garlic) and dry spices (cinnamon stick, star anise) ready.
3. Wash and cook the rice. I used Jasmine Sunwhite rice for daily consumption.
I find this rice marvellously fragrant and really suitable to be eaten with dishes such as curries, vegetables, braised meats and even for nasi lemak. The grains are whole and firm and absorbs flavours well.
Another little cooking thrill of this rice? It fills the whole kitchen with its wonderful fragrance even during the cooking process! It just makes all of us look forward to our meal. 🙂
4. Back to the curry; blend the shallots, ginger and garlic.
5. Heat some oil in the pot (I used an earthen pot since my grandmother used to use one herself!) and stir in the wet spices. Fry until fragrant and everything starts to brown.
6. Add in the curry powder and leave to simmer. Karen even marinated the chicken pieces with the curry powder. I guess she must be really fond of her aunt’s curry powder. 🙂
To be frank I’m never fond of curries cooked using powder. But since it was a small family business where the spices are hand-dried, sent to be ground in the factory and returned to the house to be hand-packed we thought it would fare better than the commercial, big scale production curry powders.
True enough it was. It dissolved easily and mixed well with the wet spices. We added plenty of fresh coconut milk since we both loved our curries rich.
I enjoyed the curry better the next day as I left it to develop its flavour overnight, with the occasional heating up over low fire to ensure it didn’t go bad. Yes, that’s how my granny used to do too!
So, other than my Hainanese chicken rice burger (recipe here), a Rice Popsicle (recipe here) and now a nyonya chicken curry, I wonder what I’ll be whipping up next. This whole cooking thing is getting me all domesticated now.
Maybe I’ll try belacan fried rice next? I know Kuching belacan are extremely good. Anyone coming back from Kuching soon? 😀
Oh, another favourite of mine?
Fresh durians with steaming hot rice!