As part of a year long cultural exchange in Malaysia, I spent a month living with an Indian family in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, where I gave most of my days to sleeping off the amazing banquet I had scoffed down the night before.
Originally only vegetarian a few days of the week, the whole family stayed away from meat while I was there, and, as they didn't really eat dairy anyway, everything my host mother cooked was vegan, and utterly mouthwatering - lets just say I was one VERY happy camper.
Thinking I shouldn't let the opportunity slip me by, towards the end of my stay I managed to drag myself and my belly out of bed in the mornings and spent hours in the kitchen watching my host mother whip up this dish and that, and while I can never quite get any of them just as she did, I have managed to nearly master a few of my favourites, including her amazing mock chicken curry.
Malaysian 'Chicken' Curry
Ingredients (enough for a nice sized bowl):
3-4 cloves of garlic, grated
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 star anise
5-6 curry leaves (I use dried because I can't find fresh ones)
1 med onion, finely chopped
4 tbs curry powder (I use Babas Meat Curry Powder, it is AMAZING)
3 med tomatoes, chopped
4 med potatoes, cut into small chunks
Mock chicken meat (I use Frys Vegetarian Chicken Style Strips cut into smaller bits, but if your not into mock meat you can always just skip it and add more potatoes)
2-3 tbs tamarind juice (you can pick it up in Tesco's 'Ingredients' section)
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup water
salt to taste
Heat a small amount of oil in a wok and fry the chicken style strips until crispy, then repeat with the potatoes and set aside.
Add a good bit of oil to the wok and, when hot, fry the cinnamon stick, broken in two, along with the onion, garlic and ginger for a few minutes.
Add the star anise next, along with the curry leaves and stir to mix.
Next mix the curry powder in a bowl with a little water, enough to form a thick paste, and add to the wok - let it cook for a minute or two, using ample oil.
Add the potato, tomato and mock meat and fry for a while to mix, adding the water to keep it from getting dry.
When the potatoes are nearly cooked through, add the coconut milk, tamarind and salt to taste.
Served sprinkled with fresh coriander - yum yum!
Note: For a different twist on the same curry, soy yogurt works really well in place of the coconut milk.