Kare Ayam Bali (Balinese Chicken Curry)

This golden curry focuses on an elegant blend of ginger, galangal, lemongrass and other aromatics. It is vital, piquant and deeply satisfying, belonging to the category of no-frills Balinese home cooking that is full of comfort and integrity.

Janet de Neefe


Spice paste

6 red shallots, or 1/3 brown onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves

6 long red chillies, seeded, roughly chopped

3 small red chillies, roughly chopped (optional)

2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons chopped galangal

1 1/2 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh turmeric

4 candlenuts or I teaspoon ground almonds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds or ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoons grated palm sugar or brown sugar

sea salt

3 tablespoons oil

2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots

3 kaffir lime leaves

600 g chicken thigh, chopped into pieces, approx. 2cmx2cm

2 teaspoons tamarind

250 ml water

250 ml coconut milk

1-2 tomatoes quartered

2 tablespoons fried shallots

Pound the spice paste ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar, or blitz them in a food processor.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and add the spice paste. Fry for 20 seconds then add the lemongrass and lime leaves and fry for another 30 seconds, until fragrant and glossy.

Add the chicken and toss for 2 minutes, until sealed all over. This step will help the chicken absorb the flavour of the spices more thoroughly and prevent the meat drying out.

Pour in the water, tamarind and simmer until the chicken is cooked and tender, for about ten minutes.

Add the coconut milk, sliced tomatoes and simmer for a further 3 minutes. Check seasonings. Serve with steamed rice, topped with the fried shallots

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