Candlenuts! These are one of the items languishing in my pantry. I had bought them in a fit of enthusiasm, after my visit to Indonesia and Malaysia in 2010. So I decided to go through one of the cookbooks I bought on that trip – Racik Tradisi (Traditional Malay Cuisine) by Zaidah Mohd Noor (bilingual edition). This is a pretty casual cookbook – or perhaps it’s the translation, because some of the directions left me a little uncertain, but I went with it and the resulting chicken was pretty yum!
1 chicken (mine was just over 2kg)
2 cups of coconut milk (I used 2 x 270 mL tins)
1 large onion
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 stalks of lemon grass
1 tbps ground chilli
some peanut oil for frying
Clean the chicken and cut into two pieces ( this was actually pretty unwieldy – in future I’d probably leave whole or buy a similar weight of chicken pieces – probably thighs and drumsticks). Finely chop the onion and candlenuts and bruise the lemongrass. Heat the oil and fry the onion, candlenuts and lemons grass until fragrant. Add in chicken pieces and stir fry for a while ( I chose about 5 minutes). Pour in chillies, coriander seeds, and coconut milk. At his point I diverged from the recipe. It said cook until the coconut milk is dried and remove chicken, then roast the chicken til cooked and pour gravy on top. Instead, I let the cocnut boil for a while, popped the top on my oven proof pot, and roasted in the oven for 80 minutes at about 180 deg C. I’ve found roasting a chicken in a pot is a sure way to end up with really moist meat. It’s particularly fantastic if you include a couple of cups of masterstock. After 40 minutes I turned the chicken peices (sort of – they were unwieldy!) and left the lid off to try and reduce the coconut gravy. The gravy was delicious but watery after cooking, so I reduced it further on the stove after taking the chicken out to rest. I served it with steamed choi sum and microwave sticky rice (another item off the pantry list!!). Overal I loved the gravy – reminiscent of a thai curry, and the lemongrass (from my garden) made it particularly fresh. I did worry about the amount of ground chilli – a tablespoon sounds like a lot. I erred on the side of less, but it really wasnt overpowering. I’d be happy to put in a full tbsp in future.