Indonesian white chicken curry

A fall-off-the-bone tender dish with fragrant spices in a coconut milk broth.

Pickles and Tea
Indonesian white chicken curry with meat so tender it falls off the bone.

Heady spices like coriander and cumin mingle with coconut milk in this lovely chicken curry, one of my favorite childhood dishes. I’ve tweaked it a little to make it simpler to prepare but don’t worry, it’s just as tasty.

The slow oven technique (thank you Jamie Oliver and for sparking the idea!) mimics my mom’s more traditional method–she slow-braises her chicken on the stovetop for hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender! Don’t crank up the temp too high or the coconut milk will curdle. You can also add green beans and carrots for a no-fuss veggie accompaniment to the meal.

Indonesian white chicken curry

2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 whole cloves

1 (3-1/2 to 4) pound chicken
Fine sea salt
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
1 can water
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
Chubby 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into 4 pieces
2 ounces shallots, roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, prepped
6 to 8 dried chilies

Green onions
Fried shallots

1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Preheat a small cast-iron skillet for 2 to 3 minutes on high, or until smoking. Reduce the heat to medium and add the black peppercorns, coriander and cumin. Toast until aromatic and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool. Grind the spices in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Or put the whole spices in a spice bag.

3. Pour the coconut milk and water into a large Dutch oven or cocotte large enough to fit the chicken. Add the ground spices, salt, and sugar, and stir to mix. Drop in the garlic, ginger slices, shallots, lemongrass, and dried chilies.

4. Rub 1 teaspoon salt all over the chicken and place it in the Dutch oven breast side-up.

5. Cover and slow-braise in the oven for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, carefully flipping the chicken halfway, until the chicken measures 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer and is extremely tender. Garnish with cilantro, parsley and/or green onions, and fried shallots. Serve with steamed rice or noodles.

Whole spices offer the best flavor but if you have ground spices in the pantry, by all means use them. However, ground and whole spices aren’t 1:1 in weight or volume. It all depends on the spice but for e.g., 1 teaspoon coriander seeds equals about 3/4 teaspoons ground. This web site has conversion recommendations.

Related post on Pickles and Tea: Indonesian-Style Chicken-Mushroom Noodles (Bakmi Ayam Jamur)

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