This is a recipe with a really interesting pedigree. It’s a Malaysian curry, but it’s not a Tamil Indian, Malay or Chinese recipe. This dish is unique to the Kristang, descendants of Portuguese traders who lived in the port of Malacca, and is deliciously different in flavour to the curries you usually find in Malaysia.
Chicken devil curry is a bit like a cross between the vinegar-seasoned curries of Goa and the devilled foods of Victorian Britain. It’s fiery hot, and unbelievably tasty. Serve with plenty of rice – you’ll need it to soak up the sauce, which is serious foretaste-of-the-heavenly-feast stuff, and to temper the heat of the chillies. I served this with some dal and some cooling pineapple and cucumber salad.
To serve 4, you’ll need:
6 chicken joints (your choice), with bone and skin
4 medium potatoes
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
2 in piece of ginger, peeled
1 stalk lemongrass
10 fresh red chillies
10 dried red chillies
10 blanched almonds (or 5 candlenuts, if you can find them)
2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 can coconut milk (use a brand like Chacao without emulsifiers)
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Salt and pepper
Rub the chicken pieces (I used six thighs) with a teaspoon of caster sugar, a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of pepper. Set aside while you prepare the curry paste.
Put the onion, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, almonds and both kinds of chillies in the bowl of your food processor with 2 tablespoons of water, and whizz until everything is reduced to a paste.
Heat 2 tablespoons of flavourless oil in a wok, and brown the chicken all over. Remove it to a plate, and add the curry paste to the hot wok. Cook the paste over a high flame, stirring all the time, for five minutes with a spoonful of the cream from the top of the coconut milk.
Add the mustards, the sugar and vinegar to the paste and stir until the mixture starts to bubble. Lower the heat to medium and slide the browned chicken pieces into the pan to cook in the paste for ten minutes. Add the rest of the coconut milk from the can with a teaspoon of salt and the chopped potatoes. Stir well to make sure all the potato and chicken is covered with sauce, put a lid on the wok and simmer over a low flame for 20-30 minutes.