An authentic curry that will be a crowd-pleaser.
First make the paste. In a dry heavy-based fryin pan, separately roast the coriander, cumin and cardamom, shaking the pan to prevent the spices from scorching, until aromatic.
Husk the cardamom, then grind to a powder with the coriander, cumin, peppercorns and nutmeg, using an electric grinder or a pestle and mortar.
Using a pestle and mortar, pound the chillies with the salt, then add the remaining ingredientsin the order they are listed in the ingredients, reducing each to a fine paste before adding the next. Alternatively, puree the ingredients in an electric blender. It will probably be necessary to add a little water to aid the blending, but try not to add more than necessary, as this will dilute the paste and alter rthe taste of the curry. Halfway through, turn the machine off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then turn it back on and whiz the paste until it is completely pureed. Finally, stir in the ground spices.
To braise the chicken, simmer 1 cup of the coconut cream with the salt and, when it has thickened slightly and is beginning to separate, add the chicken and lemongrass, along with the shallots and spices, if using. Moisten with some of the coconut milk or water and add a tablespoon of the fish sauce.
Continue to simmer gently, stirring regularly, until the coconut is absorbed and the chicken is tender yet still resilient: this should take about 20 minutes or so, but it will be necessary to moisten with more coconut milk or water during this time to prevent the meat becoming too dry.
Be careful not to braise the chicken until it is falling apart, or it will have a strigny texture. Once the chicken is cooked, drain off the excess oil, keeping it for teh next stage, and pick out the lemongrass and spices. Cover and set aside.
Next make the curry. Heat a few tablespoons of the reserved oil with 1 cup of coconut cream and fry the paste over a mediuim heat for 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent it from catching.
When it is rich and aromatic and quite oily, add 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce and simmer for a minute before adding 1 cup of coconut milk or water.
Simmer 2-3 minutes before adding the chicken and the kaffir lime leaves, then continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or longer - until the curry is quite thick, rich and creamy. It may be necessary to add some more coconut milk, stock or water.
Check the seasoning - the curry should taste rich, hot, spicy and salty. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes or so.
Exclusive recipe from Thai restaurant, Longchim.
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