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Green Curry Coconut Chicken

The recipe given here for green curry paste takes time to make properly. Pork, prawns and fish can all be used instead of chicken, but cooking times must be adjusted accordingly.

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
1.1 kg (2 1/2 lb) chicken
600 ml (1 pint) 2 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
450 ml (3/4 pint) 1 3/4 cups chicken stock
2 kaffir lime leaves
350 g (12 oz) sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
350 g (12 oz) winter squash, seeded and roughly chopped
115 g (4 oz) French beans, halved
1 small bunch fresh coriander, shredded, to garnish

for the green curry paste

10 ml (2 tsp) coriander seeds
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) caraway or cumin seeds
3 - 4 medium fresh green chillies, finely chopped
20 ml (4 tsp) sugar
10 ml (2 tsp) salt
7.5 cm (3 in) lemon grass
2 cm (3/4 in) galangal or fresh root ginger, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 shallots or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cm (3/4 in) square shrimp paste
45 ml (3 tbsp) finely chopped fresh coriander
45 ml (3 tbsp) finely chopped fresh mint
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg
30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil

method

1. To prepare the chicken, remove the legs, then separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Separate the lower part of the chicken carcass by cutting through the rib section with kitchen scissors. Divide the breast part in half down the middle, then chop each half in two. Remove the skin from all the pieces and discard.

2. Strain the coconut milk into a bowl, reserving the thick part. Place the chicken in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan, pour in the thin part of the coconut milk and the stock. Add the lime leaves and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and allow to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the cooled meat from the bone and set aside.

3. To make the curry paste, dry-fry the coriander seeds and caraway or cumin seeds. Grind the chillies with the sugar and salt in a mortar with a pestle to make a smooth paste. Combine the seeds from the wok with the chilli paste, the lemon grass, galangal or ginger, garlic and shallots or onion, then grind smoothly. Add the shrimp paste, coriander leaves, mint, nutmeg and vegetable oil.

4. Place 250 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid in a large wok. Add 60 - 75 ml (4 - 5 tbsp) of the curry paste to the liquid, according to taste. Boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced completely. Add the chicken stock, chicken meat, sweet potatoes, squash and beans. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. Stir in the thick part of the coconut milk and simmer gently to thicken. Serve garnished with coriander.

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