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One of the many reasons I thought about starting a food blog was to document my grandmother’s recipes for the future. Everyone who has tasted her food agrees that Grandma Nancy is the best cook they know – no contest. If I’m even in the running, I’m a distant second – yes, even when I bake stuff! Like all good cooks, she uses the highly scientific agak-agak (guesstimation) method. Which is great for her, not so great if you’re following her around with a notepad and a weighing scale trying to work how much of something goes into the pot.

Grandma can taste anything once and tell you what went in it. When we found something we liked eating out, we’d sneak some of it into a takeaway container and bring it home for Grandma’s analysis.

My grandmother is a pretty amazing woman who lived through World War II in Malaysia, although she lost all of her birth family then. She’s Chinese, and says that she remembers her father taking her to an Indian family to be looked after when he could not look after her during wartime. She also lost her birth certificate then so we’ve never actually ever celebrated her birthday and even she doesn’t really know how old she is.

Grandma has cooked for the family as long as I can remember. Growing up, I never liked Indian food, when Mum said Grandma was cooking curry I’d hurriedly make plans go out to dinner. Now that I’m in Australia, I miss it.

This is a Malaysian style chicken curry, best eaten with roti canai. Just the thought of it is making me want to go home, so on with the recipe.

Grandma’s Chicken Curry
serves four, with rice or roti

½ kilo chicken, preferably bone in
4 cloves garlic
2cm ginger
2 medium brown onions, sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp Baba’s meat curry powder
½ tsp chicken stock powder
¼ cup tomato passata
2 large potatoes, cut into sixths
2 tbsp coconut cream
10 curry leaves (optional)
1 green chilli, sliced (optional)

  1. Clean the chicken, remove all the skin and chop it into roughly 4 pieces per half chicken.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, ginger and onions to a paste. Add 1 tbsp curry powder and mix. Use half this curry paste to marinate the chicken and leave for about half an hour.
  3. Heat the oil, then cook the other half of the curry paste on low heat until the oil comes out – you’ll see orange spots of oil. Turn off the flame and add 1 tbsp curry powder, then stir to combine.
  4. Turn the flame back on to medium and add all the chicken at once, to brown. Be careful not to burn the curry paste.
  5. Add just enough water to cover the chicken, chicken stock powder and tomato passata.
  6. Simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes until the curry has reduced a little. Add potatoes and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes.
  7. Add coconut cream, curry leaves and green chillis (if using), season to taste with salt and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with roti canai or rice.