I have a tendency of preparing a chicken supper on Sundays. Sometimes it’s a roast chicken but last weekend, I hankered for a curry that we ate in Penang, Malaysia earlier this year. It was a Sunday when we wandered into a locals only spot for a lunch of chicken curry and roti (flatbread). The male Muslim cooks were hospitable and kind; they took pride in their craft. Their curry was well spiced but light on the palate, which meant it was perfect for the slightly greasy flatbread to soak up. The meal lingered in our minds long after we left Penang.
We got satisfaction a few weeks later with this chicken curry recipe published in a Saveur article by my friend Christopher Tan. He obtained the recipe from a West Sumatran Padang-style rice plate restaurant in Jakarta. I looked at his recipe and figured it was very similar to what we had in Penang. Culinary ideas flow easily through that part of the world, as Chris pointed out in “Spice World”, there are nasi padang restaurants in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore (where he lives).
I made the recipe soon after I saw it. It was richer and more sophisticated than the version we had in Penang, which was fine because we had it with rice instead of rich roti. The spices weren’t finely ground and lent nice texture to the sauce. I imagine that the Penang cooks used a pre-ground mixture of spices. My husband and I enjoyed the curry for days as one batch makes enough for several meals.