Gulai Pahang

Pahang-style Curry

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The Malay word gulai can refer to a traditional cooking method or to a dish. I grew up eating this gulai prepared by my late mother and I call it gulai Pahang in honour of her. To me, she made the best gulai, and her secret must be that she used the traditional grinding stone to grind the spices. I prepared and served this dish with nasi tomato and tangy acar nenas saffron at the start of my MasterChef UK journey. The positive comments I received for it are a tribute to my wonderful, loving mother.

Ingredients

  • 1 small chicken, about 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz)
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 7.5-cm (3-inch) knob galangal, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1–2 tsp salt
  • 500 ml (16 fl oz / 2 cups) thick coconut milk
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) double cream

Spice Paste

  • 3 red chillies
  • 5 bird’s eye chillies (optional)
  • 5 shallots, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp fermented prawn paste, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp fennel powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 Tbsp dried chilli paste
  • 85 ml ( fl oz / cup) water

Method

  • Wash the chicken and pat dry. Cut into 8 pieces. Set aside.
  • Place the ingredients for the spice paste in a blender and process until smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice paste and stir-fry until fragrant.
  • Add the lemongrass and galangal and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add a little water if the spice paste becomes too dry. Let it cook for about 10 minutes, or until the oil separates.
  • Add the chicken and gently stir to coat the chicken with the paste. Add the potatoes, salt and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.
  • Add the double cream and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. You can add more cream if it is too spicy for your liking.
  • Serve hot with rice and other dishes.

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