Wednesday, 18 March 2009

kari kapitan - nonya (mock) chicken curry

My childhood memories are filled with spices: eyes watering as my mum added too much chilli; ears echoing as she pounded spice using mortar and pestle; hiding in the front room as she made blachan.

Nonya (from the Malaysian Straits) curries are heavy with chilli and coconut and simmered for hours. The smell weaves through the house and you know deliciousness is ever so slowly nearing. There is a comfort there, still, in curries on all days, no need to restrict them to only cold days.

Kari Kapitan is one of the first things I learnt to cook, I was reluctant to leave my mum's daily provisions without being able to provide it for myself. After we went vegetarian, I did not even try to convert this, because the way the chicken falls from the bone is such an integral part to the dish's flavour, I thought I would not be able to replicate it, and I wanted to leave it perfect in my memory rather than mess it all up.

In January, in preparation for a curry party (which I will blog about eventually), I took a leap of faith and gave it a go, using mock meat (which I never use), and I was so excited as the smells started to float through the house, the chilli and the potato and the garamasala. When I sat down I tried my own curry first, such a slight but I couldn't wait, and it was just as I remembered, the bite of the chilli and the gravy, coconuty and sour and just perfect.

It's so important to me that after all this time, I am able to have one of my favourite foods, something that I thought I wouldn't get to eat ever again. This is the first time I've posted a recipe with mock meat, as I try not to eat it too often, but in this instance there is nothing that will give quite the same texture and result. And it's such a wonderful result.

mock chicken kapitan

kari kapitan (Nonya mock chicken curry)

This is a very simple version of an old favourite. It can get more complicated than this, but this is a great way to indulge in an old favourite without too much trouble.

Mock chicken is not for everyone. It's made from gluten, or soy, and occasionally dairy, so check the packet.

1 shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 heaped teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 heaped teaspoon garamasala
3 curry leaves
3 lime kaffir leaves
3 medium to large potatoes, peeled and diced (some small cubes, some larger)
1 cup mock chicken pieces
a large handful snake beans (cut in thirds)
1 tomato, diced tiny
1 large can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock

Using a thin-bottom pot, fry the shallot (sliced) in some peanut oil with the garlic, until it starts to discolour. Mix together the chilli and garamasala with a little water until a thick paste is formed, and add this paste, as well as the mock chicken, to the pot. Braise the chicken, and coat well in the paste. Add the potato, tomato, lime kaffir leaves and curry leaves, as well as the stock. Add extra water so that the ingredients are almost but not totally covered. Simmer on low heat with the lid on for about thirty minutes, then add the snake beans. Add extra water if necessary, and replace the lid. Simmer or another twenty minutes, then add the coconut milk. Leave to simmer with the lid off for ten minutes. Smother rice in the gravy and serve.

I am posting this for the WYF Cuisine Event.


s-j said...

Holy smokes - that looks good.

Angie said...

I agree with s-j. In addition, it almost makes we want to eat mock chicken. Almost. :)

Mihl said...

Interesting! That recipe sounds really nice.

Ricki said...

Gorgeous. And nothing simple about it!

Mandee said...

Yum! That looks delicious.

I don't buy mock meats either but I would to try this recipe :)

Vegetation said...

YUM! This sounds like heaven on a rice bed!! I've bookmarked it to make soon :)

steph said...

Hi everyone! I would love to hear how anyone goes if they try making it, it being my favourite and all. :o) Thanks for saying it looks nice...

Anonymous said...

looks fantastic! do you know of anywhere to get gluten-free mock meat? i know it's out there, as lord of the fries has 'chicken' nuggets... but i can't find it.

steph said...

Hi Matt,

I actually am going to make a post shortly about the Lord of the Fries 'chicken' nuggets! They were delicious.

They were actually very very similar to a type of fake chicken that I buy from Lotus Vegetarian Market (in Northbridge). I just checked the packet, there isn't any gluten but it does contain 'high-quality fibre' and I'm not totally sure that doesn't mean gluten (but I suspect it probably doesn't mean gluten). It's Yi Dah Xin brand, in a green packet.

Edward said...


I will add my potatoes earlier. It seem to take one step out of the preparation. I'm not sure I could face eating mock chicken. . . I have too many childhood memories of grand mothers trying to make me eat strange coloured bean curd!