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Nonya Chicken Curry With Fragrant Rice

Expect to hear a lot about Nonya cuisine, tipped to be the next big thing in food. This super-spicy curry is easy to make. Wheel it out when you want to impress a foodie.


  • For the rice

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2 star anise

  • 2 cloves

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 1cm ginger

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 3 shallots, peeled roughly chopped

  • 2 tbsp ghee

  • 300g/10½ oz rice, well rinsed under cold running water

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • For the curry

  • 3cm (1½ inch) piece galangal or ginger if you cannot get it

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer parts removed and roughly chopped

  • 3 red finger chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped

  • 6 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 tsp turmeric

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil

  • 500g / 1lb 2oz skinless chicken thighs cut into 6 lengthways

  • 4 kaffir lime leaves

  • 1 slice Assam Gelugur (optional)

  • 250ml coconut milk

  • 2 tbsp lime juice


  • 1.

    To make the infused water for the rice dry fry the coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and cardamom pods until aromatic.Place in a large saucepan with 1½ litres of water, bring it to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to bubble until the liquid has reduced by half.Meanwhile make the paste for the curry by blending the galangal, lemongrass, chillies, shallots and garlic with the turmeric and one tablespoon of the oil. Heat the remaining oil in a wok and add the paste. Cook for 4-5 minutes until very fragrant.

  • 2.

    Meanwhile, add the chicken thighs and lime leaves, cook for a further 5 minutes then add a good dash of water, the Assam Gelugar (if using) along with the coconut milk. Bring up to a simmer then cook for about six minutes until the meat is tender then stir in the lime juice. Meanwhile, to finish the rice, blend the ginger, garlic and shallots to a smooth paste. Melt the ghee in a large saucepan with a lid, then add the paste and cook for about 1-2 minutes until softened and starting to colour. Now add the well rinsed rice and fry until translucent. Add the infused water, prepared earlier, and stir in the soy sauce.

  • 3.

    Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, put on the lid and cook until all the water has been absorbed (about 6-8 minutes). Let it stand to steam dry with the lid on. Serve immediately with piles of the rice and a good sprinkling of fresh coriander.

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