To say that it was torturing to see my blogger-friend, Phong Hong’s posts on her curries would be an understatement. Her devil’s curry was a killer and this looked good too – what she said was the Kelantanese chicken curry, the kuzi ayam and of course, her mum’s delicious and easy chicken curry here and also here.
Easy would be the last word to describe it if it comes to cooking curry from scratch. My mum would do that and people would come from near and far to our open house during Christmas and Chinese New Year specially for her curry and she would serve that with her roti baiyee (Indian bread) or sandwich bread when that ran out…and no, there were no food processors, no blenders at the time and no prize for guessing whose services she would enlist to pound ALL the ingredients. “Aboi!!! Kok chin chor! Khak eyew tampok! Kok tui kok!!!” (Not yet! Still very coarse, a bit finer. Pound some more!!!)
Of course, it would be nicer to cook from scratch but looking at the amount of work involved, it comes as no surprise that this is best reserved for special occasions or those times few and far between when the craving creeps in. However, despite all the effort, it is not foolproof! Some days, the chilies are extra spicy, other days, they are not hot at all. At times, one’s favourite curry powder is out of stock and the substitute is not so nice…and there have been times also when the spices were too new, too fresh so the smell from the curry came out somewhat overpowering.
We have tried different kinds of instant pastes and some were not too bad, quite all right but they were all not quite there. Then, we came across this one – the A1 Mountain Globe brand and it instantly became our favourite and the favourite of all we’ve introduced it too. It is even available overseas, like at the Asian shops in Australia, for instance and since it is so very nice and so very easy/convenient to use, we have not cooked curry from scratch for a long long time now.
As a matter of fact, using this, it is so easy to cook curry that my missus would cook it so very often, every week…almost and at one time, she would cook those same old dishes all the time until the pandemic broke out. Having a lot more time on her hands, she started to cook some new dishes that she had never cooked before until I began to miss those comfort food that I grew kind of tired of but eventually started to miss them.
One day she cooked her soy sauce chicken with Bombay onions and potatoes, a simple dish but I enjoyed it so much and of course, I told her so in no uncertain terms. Much to my delight, the other day, she cooked this chicken curry…
…and yes, she used that A1 Mountain Globe instant paste and yes, like Phong Hong, she added evaporated milk instead of santan (coconut milk).
Some years ago, I was at my cousin’s Hari Raya open house and I enjoyed his curry so much. I thought it was a bit different so I told him so and he told me that they added evaporated milk. Since then, we would use that too but we do use santan sometimes for a change. The problem with santan is you must be careful how you handle your curry – your spoon, ladle and scoop must be dry and clean, not used for something else and in our hot and humid tropical climate, on very hot days, by evening, it might have gone bad (basi/chau sui), best kept refrigerated and reheated come dinnertime.
Usually, we would only add potatoes to our chicken curry but that day, I saw my missus throwing in some brinjal…
…as well. My mum used to do that sometimes and my missus said that her mum likewise.
My girl loves vegetable curry or vegetables in her curry and she loves brinjal a lot. I told my missus to add the ladies’ fingers…
…that we had harvested from the ones growing in my garden and yes, my girl loved those too! Usually, we would only add ladies fingers and also brinjal to fish (head) curry, alongside some tauhu kee (bean curd sticks), tauhu pok (tofu puffs) and a few slices of pineapples.
We certainly enjoyed the curry that day but unfortunately, I am now on a low-carb diet so I had to control myself and refrain from going for a second plate of rice.