Slow-Cooked Chicken
with Coconut and Whole Spices

Serves 4


The chicken is cooked very slowly, allowing it to absorb all the favors of the complex spice mix and the sweetness of the coconut milk. The jasmine rice makes a perfect accompaniment to the rich yet meltingly tender flesh and the spicy sauce.


4 chicken leg and thigh pieces,
   about 2-1/4 pounds total weight
2-inch piece fresh ginger,
   peeled and coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 red shallots, coarsely chopped
1-3/4 cup canned coconut milk
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
6 star anise
6 cardamom pods
6 dried red chilies
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
20 fresh curry leaves
   (or dried if fresh are unobtainable)


Cut through the joint of the chicken legs to separate the drumsticks from the thighs and skin them.

Put the ginger, garlic, and shallots into a blender or food processor with the coconut milk, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Blitz to a fine liquid purée and reserve.

Put a heavy-based saucepan large enough to hold the chicken pieces in a single layer over medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the star anise, cardamom pods, chilies, cloves, cinnamon, and curry leaves. Fry, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, when they will have noticeably darkened.

Add one-third of the coconut milk mixture and allow to come to a boil, then add the chicken and turn to coat. As the liquid bubbles around the chicken, it will change in appearance and start to look oily. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, then add the rest of the coconut milk mixture. As soon as it returns to a simmer, turn the heat down and leave to cook uncovered, for 1 hour. Stir frequently or it will stick and burn. Indeed, after 50 minutes, stir at 1-minute intervals. By now the chicken will be golden brown and most of the coconut milk will have evaporated, leaving an oily residue.

Pour away any remaining oil, leaving only the chicken and spices. Increase the heat to high, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water and shake and stir to deglaze the pan. Transfer the chicken and the deglazed sauce to a serving bowl and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Buy the Book!


A New Look At Australian Cooking

By Martin Webb and Richard Whittington
Soma Books, 1997
Hardback, $27.00
Color photos throughout
ISBN: 1-57959-013-6
Recipe reprinted by permission.





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