We’ve got comment that that’s not curry, because the lack of chilies. According to Pak Dodok our dish today should be called opor ayam or chicken dish cooked with coconut milk and various spices. Well, basically that was it, but I’m calling it curry. My European tongue says curry. So be it.
My favorite part of cooking this dish are fresh spices: galingale, ginger, turmeric, candlenut, coriander and caraway or Persian cumin. The luxury of today’s cooking was avoiding pre-packed spices and grind our own. One has to master handling mortar and pestle to grind spices perfectly and more important – in time. Although it looks pretty simple to do it, it is not. If I, without mortar skilled hand, would do it, we would most probably eat dinner instead of lunch. But Bu Netty did in no time – on the floor while squatting. She ground all those above mentioned spices including garlic, shallot and red, not really spicy, chillies, which then became fragrant orange-yellowish paste. After the hard work of grinding was done, we sauteed the paste along with lemon grass, cinnamon stick and bay leaf for a couple of moments.
Once the spice part was finished, we put the rest of ingredients into the pan. Gradually. First, we added some water and package of coconut milk in which we boiled chicken for about 10 minutes. Afterwards we added tempeh and tofu. Hint: if you don’t want your tofu to fall apart, fry it shortly and just then put it into the curry stew. At this point we added some more water and more coconut milk. We also added little red chilies. But whole ones, because they are spicy as hell and one who would like a spicy food adventure could smash the chili on it’s own plate later. For a perfect photo Netty, the master chef of the day, fired shallot to sprinkle it on the top.
‘I can’t believe this is made without MSG!’, said Netty enjoying heavenly good home cooked food. Before she used to use a lot of MSG=monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer, known as one of the worst food additives there is. It is very common in Indonesia and awareness is very low. Netty is now avoiding it most of the time, which is the reason her husband requested an egg to eat with curry, to replace missing MSG flavor at least a bit.
Until we cook again,
Polo (cooking assistant)