I Love It. I Hate It. I Love It. I Hate It.

Sometimes I think internet is my biggest time-waster. When there’s no internet, I’m extremely productive. Ha! But well, when you’ve got no access to the big blue sea, you’ve got no access to the wonderful recipes out there. So you do what you gotta do. Re-create what your mom usually cooks.

I don’t usually prepare Indonesian dishes. I don’t know why, maybe because they don’t look pretty. Many dishes are fried, and at times, fried to the point of no return: it’s just too dry. I hate that. No doubt it tastes good with all the sauces and chili, but so full of spices that I have no clue whether the meat is fresh or not, how each ingredient should taste like. And every time I eat something else (or other cuisine) I keep on feeling like it’s lacking sweetness or sourness or spiciness. My tongue can’t tell the difference anymore. And worse, I can’t seem to control myself whenever I eat Indonesian food. So there’s certainly a love-hate relationship there. In addition, H is not really a big fan of all the many spices and herbs. He forbade me from adding sugar into cooking.

But this dish? He LOVES it. It’s full of flavor: sweet, sour, and a little bit sinful. It smells great. I need to lock all my fresh linens in the cabinet before I start cooking this. What I love the most about this is instead of deep frying the chicken, it is “boiled” then browned. Healthier, I’d say 😉

serve 2

chicken pieces – I use 2 wings, 1 upper thigh, 1 chicken drumstick
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 4-5 cm length
2 bay leaves
4-5 medium shallots
2-3 medium garlic cloves
3 candlenuts
2 cm galangal, peeled of its skin
1 tsp tamarind paste – i used a big pinch of tamarind block
1.5 tsp turmeric powder
1-1.5 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves
Oil, to fry

  • In a food processor, add in shallots, candlenuts, garlic, galangal and grind into fine paste. Add some water to aid. Then add the turmeric powder, salt and sugar and stir till well incorporated.
  • Add the chicken pieces into a pot, together with the tamarind paste, bay leaves and lemongrass then pour in the spice paste. Add in some water till the chickens are submerged. Cover the pot and turn on the fire over medium heat.
  • After 1 hour or so, the water would have evaporated. If not, uncover the pot and let it continue cooking. Taste the “broth” and adjust the taste. I added a pinch more salt at this stage.
  • Once the chicken has been properly cooked and the water has dried up almost completely, turn off the stove. Fish the chickens out.
  • In a non-stick skillet preferably with a cover, heat up just a little bit oil (the chicken will continue to ooze its natural fats), and brown the chicken on all sides over small to medium fire. Cover the skillet as the “dried broth” will splatter out when it came into contact with hot surface.
  • Once all chicken has been browned (1-2 mins each side), if you like, fry 1 tbsp of what’s remaining from the dried broth. Lift the pot if necessary to avoid it charring. Ahem, cancerous.
  • Serve immediately with rice, and a dollop of the fried “broth”.

What do you think?

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