First make the curry paste. In a mortar, grind the dry spices together, then add the salt, and grind in the garlic, lime leaves, lemon grass and galangal. The salt will help make grinding easier. Pound in the chillies and the shrimp paste.
Skin and bone the chicken breasts, and cross-hatch the smooth side several times with a sharp knife. Rub the curry paste into the chicken. In a well-seasoned frying pan or wok, fry the chicken on both sides for 2–3 minutes, which will bring out the spice aromas. Remove from the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the peanuts and basil leaves, and half the stock, to the pan. Stir and bring to the boil, put the chicken pieces back, and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through, adding the remaining stock if necessary. Serve sprinkled with the crushed peanuts and shredded basil leaves.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.