Kari Kapitan

When I was younger, my parents will drop me off at Grandma’s before they head to work everyday. My parents would then be back for nice but simple home-cooked dinner prepared by Grandma before we heading home. And during special occasions or festive seasons, I remember how she liked to wear the kebaya, gold jewelleries &  tie her hair back in a nice wavey bun. I can still remember certain dishes that she used to cook for us. They were all so delicious. It is a pity that no one in the family at that time were interested in aquiring those culinary skills and recipes. And I was too young to remember what she taught me.

Kari Kapitan is a popular Nyonya dish and is served in most Peranakan restaurants. It is a dry chicken curry. It is the use of lemongrass, the yellow and red colour and sweet and sourish taste that makes this a distinctive Nyonya dish. This recipe is adapted from a book call the Nyonya Flavours. It contains many dishes that Grandma used to make. This will be the first of many Nyonya dishes that I will like to master. And I hope that this dish will make her smile :)

The roots, the chiilies and kaffir

The roots, the chiilies and kaffir

Ingredients:

  • 1.5Kg of chicken pieces (drums & thighs)
  • 11/2 tbsp of tumeric powder
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 1 cups of oil for deep frying
  • 400ml thick coconut milk
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 limes
  • 11/2 tbsp of light soya sauce
  • Deep fried shallots
Marinated chicken

Marinated chicken

Spice paste (Grind or Ground)

  • 400 grams of shallots
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3cm of ginger
  • 2cm of galangal
  • 2cm of tumeric
  • 6 candle nuts or macadamnia nuts
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass (70g)
  • 3-6 fresh red chillies (depending how spicy you like it to be)
  • 10 dry red chillies
  • 20g toasted belacan
Grinded spice paste

Grinded spice paste

Golden brown chicken pieces

Golden brown chicken pieces

Method:

  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with salt and tumeric and leave it overnight
  2. Deep fry the chicken pieces till golden brown and drain on paper towel. Set aside.
  3. Heat at least 1/2 cup of frying oil in a wok to saute the spice paste until it is fragrant.
  4. Add the chicken pieces and coat evenly with spice paste and cook over a low to medium heat for 5 mins
  5. Add a little water and allow it to cook the chicken till it is quite dry
  6. Add the coconut milk, sugar, salt & light soya sauce, kaffir lime leaves. Cover and simmer at low heat till the chicken is tender
  7. Add the lime juice and mix well
  8. Serve with rice and topped with deep fried shallots
Cooked kari kapitan in the pot

Cooked kari kapitan in the pot

Kari kapitan served with rice and topped with fried shallots

Kari kapitan served with rice and topped with fried shallots

Vegetables is a must for every meal in this house. To accompany the kapitan, I cooked a really simple stir-fry okra with garlic and chilli. I need to thank Mister for helping me in the kitchen today. He was responsible for deep frying the chicken and did a really good job! We had a little disaster with the shallots but luckily no one was burnt! It was nice having him in the kitchen and making a nyonya meal together. :) And I am glad that Mister liked the dish as much as I enjoyed making it. The fragrance that filled the house was both very comforting & familiar.

Raw okra

Raw okra

Stir fry okra

Stir fry okra

The Peranakan culture is very vibrant and colourful. A  Peranakan Museum has recently opened in Singapore. I will definitely visit it the next time I return for a visit. This is my first step in keeping a tradition. :)

Please share you favourite dish that your Grandma or mum has cooked for you.