When my husband and I were still in our dating stage of our relationship, he brought me to visit his family's home town- Malacca. It was a truly amazing experience, standing in the midst of a busy street at Jasin, imaging what it must be like for him growing up, visiting his grandmother, playing with his cousins and eating all the fabulous food one can find there!
Most of hubby's family have since moved to KL. His grandmother passed away sometime ago, but his uncles and my father in law continued to check in their little family home now and then.
As usual, when Babe in KL annouced this year's theme of Merdeka Open House, I asked what he would like me to cook. His response was unusually quiet as he spoke about one of his favourite dishes that his mother used to cook for him and how it reminded him of Malacca.
I could still recall, those days where we could bring in to Australia home made curry pastes. His mother would prepare a few packets of rempah, and in some cases, even curry pastes of Chicken Kapitan. When hubby and I were housemates, I used to look forward to his turn to cook- because he would use his mother's curry pastes!
It makes sense then, when he requested that I make Chicken Kapitan this year. Celebrating where his family comes from when they arrived in Jasin so many years ago, and how his uncles witness their father (My grandfather in law if it makes sense!) build his establishments, allowing the uncles to have the future they have now, and allowing my husband and his generation to build their future. Not forgetting, a big thank you to my mother in law who packed and prepared all those years of chicken kapitan pastes so that hubby (and me!) could have a taste of home.
Chicken Kapitan is a Nonya dish, a chicken in a rich coconut curry gravy. My kitchen was filled with the lovely flavours of lemongrass, belacan and ginger. Ah, I'm slowly loving my quest of cooking curry from scratch this year.
Chicken Kapitan (serves 4-5)
500 grams of chicken thigh (Or you can use 1 kg of chicken drumsticks)
1 tsp oil
5 eschalots diced
270 ml of coconut cream
juice of 1/2 lemon/lime
To be blended or pounded
4 chili padi
5 cloves of garlic
2.5 cm each of ginger, galangal and tumeric, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of lemongrass white part only, chopped finely
1 tsp belacan (dried shrimp paste)
Blend the blended ingredients into a paste. Heat oil in a pan and fry paste for around 5 minutes. Your kitchen will smell so good then! Brown chicken and eschalots. Turn chicken to coat in paste. Add coconut cream with 100 ml of water and cover pan with lid. Boil and them simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Uncover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in lemon/lime juice. Serve with hot rice.
food brings people together, regardless of culture and country of origin. imagine this space like a huge dining table-filled with home cooked food, with people sharing, loving and eating. eat and enjoy.