Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yellow Curry Chicken Legs

When I was young my mother occasionally used to make curry chicken as one of the dishes she served at family dinner (along with others, of course, as per usual Chinese family style of dining). She used whole chicken pieces rather than what one would more commonly get in a restaurant -- smaller pieces or sliced meat. It was a favorite of mine and my brother's. I love curries in general, but recently I've been craving a more Chinese-style curry. I had a can of coconut milk that I wanted to use as part of a curry, but I am almost certain that my mother's curry didn't use milk, which is more traditionally Thai than Chinese, so I couldn't ask her for the recipe. Nor did I want to go online to find a recipe for curry with coconut milk, both because it would undoubtedly lead to Thai-style curries, which I generally don't like due to being too sweet, and because curry seems like the sort of thing that would be fairly easy to improv.

Luckily, I was right. :) Here follows the ingredients I used in mine, with guesstimates as to certain amounts since I didn't do any measuring (marked with an asterisk). Obviously a very forgiving recipe; the ingredients show more what I had in the fridge that I wanted to use than any true planning. For future attempts I'm likely to use an extra carrot and perhaps a red pepper for the contrast in color, as well as more cornstarch to thicken up the curry -- but not too much.


  • 5-6 chicken legs, bone-in and with skin
  • 1/4 pound of fish balls
  • 2 red potatoes, cut into medium-size chunks
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 brown/yellow onion, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 3 large white button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 3 large crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 5-6 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese BBQ sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat peanut oil in a large pot (I used a dutch oven) on medium heat. Brown chicken for 8 minutes, turning once. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
  2. Remove chicken to a plate. Do not clean pot of juices. Toss in the onions and potato and cook until they start to turn brown, just a few minutes. Remove as much as is feasible to a plate.
  3. Add in the coconut milk, fish sauce, curry powder, and BBQ sauce. Stir until fully incorporated and bring to a boil. Simmer until slighly reduced, a couple of minutes.
  4. Add in the tomato slices (they will melt and be part of the sauce). Place the chicken legs in the pot, and try not to crowd them. Add the onions, carrot, and potato on top. The sauce at this point probably won't cover everything, but don't worry, there will be more than enough liquid by the time the curry finishes cooking. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours or so. It's probably ready sooner than that, but I like for the meat to be falling off the bone so I leave it longer.
  5. Half an hour before you're going to turn the heat off and serve the curry, mix the water with the corn starch. Add into the bubbling curry and stir to mix. Add in the mushrooms and fish balls. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes or so.
  6. Taste the curry and season as desired. Serve hot with white rice.

Pictured here with white rice and hot tea.

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