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Singapore style chicken curry

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I had a chicken curry for breakfast several days in a row at the original Killiney's Kopitiam - it was one of the tastiest things I had on that trip, which is saying something.  When I got home, I tried to recreate it many times but could never get it right.  But I think I did it last time.... even if it's not an exact recreation (I haven't had the real thing in 2 or 3 years), it was really tasty.


While I've never written a recipe in RecipeGullet before, I have written recipes down for myself - mostly notes of quantities of ingredients....  this one is difficult for me because I didn't really measure anything while making it - so the quantities are going to be REALLY imprecise - to tell the truth though, I don't think exact quantities matter all that much in this case.


Makes 4 meals for 2 people each - I cook the rempah and make the curry itself in one large batch since it's a bit of work, then portion and freeze.  While it's not typical, it makes fast and convenient meals for us during the week when we don't have that much time.  Because I don't like to freeze and reheat meat, I'll make the curry with everything except the chicken in advance and freeze, then I'll defrost one batch in a pot - once simmering, I'll add the chicken.



about 10 shallots, peeled, chopped very roughly

about 10 cloves of garlic (a little less than a head), peeled, chopped roughly

about a 6" piece (or bunch of pieces adding to it) fresh turmeric, peeled, chopped roughly

about 5T belacan (dried fermented shrimp paste)

6-8 dried puya chiles, destemmed and seeded, chopped roughly (or snipped with scissors), then rehydrated and drained

4-5 dried thai chiles, destemmed and seeded, chopped roughly (or snipped with scissors), then rehydrated and drained

a large handful (how do you like THAT for a measurement!?!) ground coriander

a small handful ground cumin

a small handful ground fennel

3/4C grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)


2 stems curry leaves, stemmed

1 3" stick of true cinnamon (not cassia)

2 star anise

3 cloves

2-3T coconut cream



8 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and par boiled

4C coconut milk

about 1T salt

about 1T sugar


Chicken (for one meal for 2):

4 chicken thighs (we usually only get the thighs as my wife is not too fond of the legs, and it's a lot juicier than white meat)


1/2C water (optional depending on thickness of coconut milk used - the curry shouldn't be thick, but more viscous than water)



1) Traditionally, you would pound the first set of rempah ingredients (without the oil) in a mortar/pestle until a smooth paste - but I don't have the time for that... so I use a blender - the results may not be as good, but it works pretty well.  To do this, add all the top section rempah ingredients to a blender jar in order.  Blend until smooth.


2) In a deep pot over medium heat, add the rempah paste plus the second set of rempah ingredients and fry until the oil separates out and the paste moves around in a more or less solid mass. You need to constantly stir and scrape to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom.  If you made the paste with mortar/pestle, add oil to the pot first, then add paste when hot.  When it's done, it should look like this:



3) Add the potatoes, coconut milk, salt and sugar, and simmer for a few minutes


4) Chill, dividing evenly into 4 portions; refrigerate overnight, and then freeze for later.


5) To make the complete meal, add one frozen portion to a 4 qt saucepan and add 1/2C water (if needed to adjust consistency) - cover and cook over medium heat until simmering.


6) Meanwhile, salt the chicken and let sit until curry is simmering


7) Add chicken to curry and make sure the meat is submerged. Cover, and simmer for about 8 minutes.  At this point the chicken should be mostly cooked through - if so, turn off the heat and leave covered for another 5 min. or so while prepping vegetables etc.


8) Eat with french bread to dip into the curry, or Singapore style roti prata.

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 Thank you so much. That obviously took work on your part to put it into the recipe database. 


 Edited to add:

Sourcing some of these ingredients might prove challenging. :)

Edited by Anna N (log)
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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ha! I think it took almost as long to write down the recipe (albeit interrupted a few times) as it did to make!  Yes, sourcing some ingredients like fresh curry leaves or fresh turmeric can be challenging for some, depending on location.  However, I would say that this is actually one of the easier-to-source curries that I make.  The one that uses fresh lemongrass (while not hard to find, it's hard to find good quality ones around here) and fresh galangal is the worst!


If you have trouble sourcing the dried chiles, I think you can make a few substitutions... the dried thai chiles should not be that hard to find... the puyas can be replaced by any red, mildly spicy,  thick fleshed chili - just look for somethign that's 4-5" long and maybe 1 to 1.5" wide and a deep red/maroon color... 


I could be pretty sure that they're not using puya chiles in Singapore - but that's what I can get locally to replace what they are using.

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ETA - next time I may omit the curry leaves.  While I love the flavor and complexity they impart, I don't think they're typical in the "authentic" dish...

Edited by KennethT (log)

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