If you have been following this blog for some time, you will have picked up on the fact that I love curry. One thing that I have always wanted to do is create my own curry paste but, unfortunately, I have never had the right equipment. Now things have now changed. This recipe doesn’t require any expensive spice grinders that are only going to be used occasionally, it uses a standard food processor, which is a much more worthwhile investment.
Handmade curry paste is very different from the most available ones you can buy. For starters, it is nowhere near as concentrated. This may seem a bit odd but once you make it, you will realise quite how much water is in the paste which is removed before you purchase it. A curry for two people normally has about 60g of curry paste in it. This recipe feeds four but uses over a cup (250ml) of paste. This excess water must be driven off at the start of the cooking process if you want to extract the best flavours from the spices.
The recipe below is specifically for curry laksa. This differs from asam laksa as it lacks tamarind pulp and includes coconut milk. These differences result in a far creamier, much less sour curry that I am a huge fan of. Laksa is a classic example of fusion cuisine done well. It is believed to have been cooked for Chinese merchants by the women they married as they travelled around the Malay Archipelago (Malaysia, Java and Indonesia). The dish combined the local ingredients, specifically coconut and tamarind, with the noodle dishes that the Chinese merchants bought with them on their travels and from these intermarriages was born the Peranakan culture.
A lot of classic laksa recipes contain both dried and brown shrimp in the curry paste and also use prawns instead of chicken. As someone who doesn’t eat seafood this was rather unfortunate for me, but luckily chicken laksa is relatively popular and isn’t too much of a change from the original sentiment behind the dish. The depth of flavour from the spice combination is phenomenal and I hope you get as much pleasure from this dish as I did.
Curry Laksa with Chicken
Time: 30 minutes
Cost per serving: around £2
For the paste:
3-6 red chilis
5 garlic cloves
2 stalks lemon grass
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cashew nut butter (2 tbsp nuts or swap for peanut butter)
1 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of one lime
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp oil
2 chicken breasts
400ml low fat coconut milk (this has a slightly milder flavour than the full fat variety)
600ml chicken stock
4 portions noodles
Beansprouts or some other thin, crunchy vegetables (julienne carrots or mangetout both work too)
3 tsp chilli paste (optional)
6 tofu puffs or slices of fried tofu (optional)
Corriander and sliced spring onion to garnish
Place the ingredients for the paste into a food processor and blend until almost smooth. Laksa should have a slightly gritty texture so the paste should still have a few fibres left in it.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the laksa paste. Fry this until it starts to dry out.
Add a quarter of the coconut milk and cook again until the paste starts to dry and the milk begins to crack. (For more information about cracking the milk, see my post on Thai curries).
Pour in the rest of the coconut milk along with the stock. Stir this together and heat until it begins to boil.
Once the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat until it is simmering and then add the chicken to poach in the soup for around 15 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking and if you are using tofu puffs, slice them in half along the diagonal and add them to the soup.
Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain them and rinse with cold water until the noodles are completely cool to stop them from cooking any more.
Once the chicken is ready, blanch the beansprouts and begin to assemble the dish.
Place a portion of noodles in the centre of each bowl and place a couple of pieces of tofu on top.
Slice the chicken breasts and divvy them up between the bowls laying the chicken down on one side of the noodles
Place the bean sprouts or other vegetables in the centre of the bowl, on the noodles, to give the dish height.
Ladle the soup around the outside of noodles so as not to disturb the vegetables.
Finally, garnish with a small spoon of chilli paste if you like your laksa spicy.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe! The soup is full of flavour and can absolutely be enjoyed without any of the other toppings if you want a light lunch or even just a small starter at the beginning of your meal. The wonderful thing about making your own curry paste is that you can adjust the ingredients to your preferences so the laksa will be perfect every time.
If you like curries, you should definitely check out my recipes for Thai coconut curry and also for my lighter, non-coconut curry too. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something a little sweeter, why not try treating yourself to a beautiful ombre cake? You can even turn it into a unicorn!
Have a good one and I will see you next week with a cake idea that you can prepare for Halloween.