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Balinese Chicken Curry

Balinese Chicken Curry

This is one of the tastiest and lightest curries that I’ve eaten and cooked – it is based on a Nadia Lim recipe. I’ve served it a few times for our friends and it always get huge raps! It is very fresh tasting with lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and tamarind paste in the recipe as well as other traditional Indonesian spices and herbs. Has chilli but mainly as a garnish so is not a hot curry

This Balinese chicken curry is easy enough to make on a weeknight, but also special enough to serve when entertaining. If you’re having trouble finding fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime or tamarind, try an Asian supermarket. You can use lemongrass paste which is readily available at supermarkets and makrut lime leaves can be used when you can’t get the kaffir lime (and from the supermarket)

It is served with a very simple salad of cucumber, mint and lemon juice and some rice

This curry is not one of those “throw the spices in with the meat, add some coconut cream and leave” varieties – you make the actual curry paste and there are a couple of stages where you are constantly cooking…but well worth the effort and the actual cooking time is quite quick


 Curry paste

  • 6-8 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic or 2 tbs garlic paste
  • 4 x 3 cm pieces ginger or 4 tbs ginger paste
  • 6 long red chillies, deseeded
  • 2 cups roasted peanuts (or cashew nuts)
  • 3 tbs tamarind puree
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbs lemongrass paste or 4 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layer removed
  • 4 tbs light soy sauce
  • 4 tbs soft brown sugar or coconut sugar

 Chicken curry

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 thinly diced onions
  • 2 kg boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-2 cm long strips
  • 1 litre coconut milk (get a 1litre carton if you can)
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 8-10 Kaffir (or Makrut) lime leaves or 2 pkts from supermarket fresh veg fridge
  • Juice from 4 limes

To serve

  • 1 red chilli, very finely sliced lengthways
  • 2 Kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced lengthways (from packets you have already bought)
  • Steamed rice – I like to use Jasmin rice if possible
  • Cucumber Salad – 1 or 2 long telegraph cucumbers, handful of mint leaves and juice from 1 large lemon. Using a veg peeler, peel the cucumber into ribbons, add broken up mint leaves and squeeze in the lemon juice to taste. Mix and you are all done!
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges


Cooking instructions

  1. Place all the curry paste ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste.
  2. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan (you may require 2 frypans for this quantity) on a medium heat. Add the curry paste and fry for about 6-8 minutes until very fragrant, stirring continuously to prevent sticking.
  3. Add another drizzle of oil, the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until onion is very soft (about 6-7 minutes). Keep stirring continuously. Add 1 tbs water if mixture begins to stick to pan.
  4. Add chicken and fry for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Add coconut milk, soy sauce and kaffir lime leaves and simmer for about 8 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce has intensified in colour and thickened slightly. Season to taste with lime juice.
  5. If you have been using 2 frypans, I then transfer the curry from the 2 pans into 1 large saucepan and keep gently cooking for another 5- 10 minutes
  6. Garnish with extra roasted peanuts/cashews and thinly sliced red chilli and kaffir lime leaf. Serve with rice and the Cucumber Salad and the lime wedges on the side.

Serves 8 – this freezes well but if you want a smaller meal, simply halve the ingredients