Curry love

Personally, I have no problem with brown food; some of the most intense, strident dishes I have ever eaten have been brown. In cooking, caramelisation is your friend and caramel is brown. My much documented love of brown food was proven in this Macanese Portuguese-Inspired Chicken Curry, which combines elements of fish sauce, coconut milk, turmeric, and paprika to pay homage to the culinary traditions of Macau. This particularly unusual curry has lots of flavour punch but not too much heat (the addition of extra chilli oil will help out you heatseekers, though). Not pretty but one of the most delicious curries I have ever eaten. When I looked at the photo I had just taken the brownness was not going to win any beauty contests, but it would achieve high ranking in the flavour awards? This might look like one of those dishes where you think ‘Can I really be bothered?’. But trust me when I say it is worth it. 
Macanese cuisine reflects the context and history of the territory, which was leased to Portugal by China as a trading post in 1557, after the Portuguese colonized it in the early 1500s. The territory – today known for its casinos – was ruled by the Portuguese until 1999, when it was handed back to China. ..
Let's put the food of Macau back on Portuguese plates.

                                                                               Photo from Restaurante Patua by Rodrigo Cabrita

Macanese Portuguese-Inspired Chicken Curry

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs* trimmed of excess fat and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon table salt plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/3 cup sunflower oil
3 cups (18 ounces) finely chopped onions
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
One (13 1/2-ounce) can coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce plus extra to taste
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon curry powder (such as Madras)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chilli oil for garnish
1/2 cup (2 oz) chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Steamed rice or buttery naan to serve
1 lime or lemon cut into wedges, for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, paprika, salt, and turmeric and mix with your hands. Let the chicken marinate while you prepare the other ingredients (or refrigerate for up to 8 hours).
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add onions, reduce heat to medium-low, and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions are cooked through and everything is coated in a glossy layer of oil, about 5 minutes more.
Stir in the chicken and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
Pour in coconut milk, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a near boil. 
Simmer mixture until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Pour in fish sauce and water and bring to a boil. (The broth will thin as the chicken starts to release its juices.)
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the curry has thickened and the flavor has developed, about 50 minutes. (Droplets of paprika-red oil will rise to the surface; this is okay).
Stir in curry powder and cayenne and simmer for 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 20 minutes for the dish to develop more flavor as it cools.
Season with more salt or fish sauce, if needed. Drizzle chile oil over the top and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with rice (or naan) and wedges of lime (or lemon).


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