Recipe: Kapitan Chicken Curry

by Celeste Heiter, Oct 25, 2009 | Destinations: Singapore
Kapitan Curry

Kapitan Curry

Kapitan Curry

Kapitan Chicken Curry

This dish is a Singaporean favorite with many variations. Some recipes call for tamarind, others for shrimp paste, many for candlenuts, and some include all three.

This version of Kapitan Curry begins with an aromatic spice paste that becomes a rich yet subtle curry sauce with the addition of coconut milk and lime juice. And since candlenuts aren't always readily available in other parts of the world, it includes nut butter as a substitute, with macadamia being the closest in flavor. But peanut or cashew will work just as well. And since shrimp paste imparts a strongly fermented flavor with a lingering aftertaste, it is listed as an optional ingredient, as is the tamarind paste, another strongly flavored ingredient. But with or without these ingredients, this Kapitan Curry recipe is sure to be the star of any Singaporean menu.

Curry Paste:

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 dried red chilies (more or less to taste)
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 knob ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon nut butter (peanut, cashew, macadamia, etc.)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)
1 teaspoon tamarind paste (optional)
¼ cup water

Main Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 can coconut milk (about 2 cups)
1 lime, juice only
Salt to taste

Combine spice paste ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree to a fine paste. Heat oil in a wok or soup kettle. Add chicken pieces, peppers and onions and stir-fry until lightly browned. Stir in spice paste to evenly coat chicken. Add chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Stir in lime juice and serve over steamed rice.