6 tablespoons peanut oil
2 (3 –inch) cinnamon stick
3 star anise
2 pounds Chicken thigh meat, cut into 2 inch cubes across the grain
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon chili or cayenne powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups coconut milk
Salt to taste
1 cup toasted grated coconut or toasted desiccated coconut
6 whole shallots, peeled and quartered
2 fresh red chilies, chopped
4 stalks fresh lemongrass, outer layer peeled and chopped from the base or 5 tablespoons frozen
3 inch piece galangal (lengkuas), chopped
2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- Prepare the spice paste by placing shallots, chilies, lemongrass, galangal, ginger and garlic in the food processor together with ¼ cup of water and blend the spices to a smooth paste. If you need to add more water to facilitate the blending of the paste, do this in small increments while the motor is running. You will end you with a fragrant bright orange in color spice paste. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven pot or large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, star anise and bay leaves then and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Now add the spice paste gradually, and mix well to combine with the spice oil. Allow the spice paste to cook for 10 minutes until the oils have separated on the surface.
- Add turmeric powder, chili or cayenne powder and cumin powder. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes until the oils appear on the surface.
- Add the chicken, sugar and coconut milk, mix well and cook uncovered on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure base does not burn.
- Add the salt and toasted coconut and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked, the gravy has well reduced and the oil has separated and appear on the surface. Turn off the heart and serve warm.
How to Prepare Kerisik or Toasted Coconut
- Use one 16 ounce package frozen grated coconut (found in the freezer sections in Asian supermarkets). (To thaw, place the frozen coconut package in hot water).
- Place the grated coconut in dry wok over medium heat and fry until brown, stirring occasionally to ensure the base does not burn. Once the coconut appears dry and brown, remove from heat.
- Place the coconut in the blender and process to a paste or traditionally done by pounding the coconut in a mortar and pestle until smooth to release the oil from the coconut. Store the toasted coconut in an air tight container. The toasted coconut can last up to one month in the pantry or 3 months in the refrigerator and 1 year in the freezer.