Borneo coconut chicken curry

I have been SO looking forward to making this curry!

The recipe was given to me by Shaun Naen, a chef originally from Borneo.  It's a dish his mother taught him when he lived at home - and a special dish she would make for occasions such as a birthday or Chinese New Year. 

Since I left home, I miss my mother and her cooking very much. When I first cooked this it reminded me so much of home I felt quite overwhelmed’
— Shaun Naen

I made it today for the first time and it's going to be a special occasion dish in this house from now on too.

Because I wanted to make it as it should be I did cook the full amount (it only JUST squeezed into my biggest pan!) but it would be easy to scale down to make a smaller amount.

I love that it's a bit different in that you get a whole chicken piece in each portion rather than being it chopped up.  

It's also exactly the sort of dish I want people to share with me - there's something lovely and warm in having personal dishes shared - family favourites; dishes that mean something; food that has real memory and love behind it. 

So, let's go.  

Let's go make a great-big-celebration-special-occasion-for-all-the-family coconut chicken curry.

For eight people, you'll need:

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

1 white onion (or a few shallots)

2 inches of fresh ginger

5 cloves garlic

5 red chillies (I wasn't sure whether they were big mild ones of birds eye - so used four bigger ones and one birds eye chilli just 'because'.  So use what you like!)

4-5 tablespoons rapeseed/cooking oil

5 tablespoons hot curry powder

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons ground turmeric

1 whole chicken, cut into eight (I got my butcher to do this as wasn't confident - but I'll try myself next time)

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

600 ml coconut milk

2 big potatoes, peeled and cut into chunky cubes, then blanched (cooked in boiling water for 2-3 minutes)

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

10 cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks or cassia bark

15 curry leaves (OK, now these I just couldn't find - so I used kaffir lime leaves plus a couple of bay leaves.  It's not quite correct, but it was still really good!)

4 star anis

2 lemongrass stalks, outer layer peeled off and then bruised

2 tablespoons garam masala

seasoning to taste

a big handful of coriander leaves, chopped

a few slices of red chilli, to garnish

cooked rice, to serve

Peel the onion and chop roughly into a few pieces.  Peel the ginger and chop into chunks.  Peel the garlic, and take the stalks off the ends of the chillies and cut in half. 

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

Put them all into the food processor and blitz to make a coarse paste.

mixed curry paste.jpg

Heat the oil in a wok (my wok wasn't big enough so I used my biggest pan and that was only just big enough!) ... and when hot add:

- the paste from the food processor

- curry powder, ground coriander, cumin and turmeric

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder
Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

... and fry for a little, stirring all the time.  

When it comes together (and smells amazing) add the chicken pieces and the coconut milk.

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

Stir and then add in the potato cubes.

Stir again and add the cardamom, cinnamon/cassia, curry leaves, star anis and lemongrass.

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

Simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through - about half an hour. 

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder

Then add the garam masala and a little water if needed.

Season well - I needed quite a bit of salt in mine and a pinch of black pepper.  Stir again and simmer for a couple of minutes more.

Serve with fresh chopped coriander and coconut rice or boiled rice.

Borneo coconut chicken curry Rachel Walder


(And let me know what you think). 

Definitely a special occasion dish in this house now too.