Peranakans are the Chinese who immigrated to the Nusantara region and to assimilate themselves into the local culture they had adopted some of the Malay customs. Their food and style of cooking became a blend of Chinese and Malay and thus the birth of Peranakan. Peranakan recipes always uses fresh ingredients and some of their recipes are quite complicated.
In the olden times when the food processor or blender was a rare kitchen equipment, a pestel and motar would be used to pound all the fresh ingredients. In fact till this day, some of the older generation Peranakans would still insist on using the old fashion method to pound the ingredients. They swear that Peranakan dishes taste so much better as the pounding releases the oils and flavours slowly.
Recipe Adapted from "Female Cookbook Vol 12"
1.6kg whole chicken, cut into 12 - 16 pieces
10 dried red chillies
4 fresh red chillies
7 red shallots
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
2 stalk lemon grass, the white part only
200 ml thick coconut cream (from packet)
1/4 cup water
3 - 4 Tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste
1) Grind the candlenut, the chillies, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste and lemongrass until fine. Keep aside.
2) Heat the oil in a wok or a large pot until hot. Add the grounded paste into the oil, turn fire to medium. Fry the paste until oil starts to seep out and it smells fragrant. This should take about 4 - 5 minutes.
3) Add in the chicken pieces and fry for another 5 minutes.
4) Add 3/4 of the coconut cream and mix it with the 1/4 water. Add to the chicken and stir. Bring to a boil and then turn the fire to low/medium. Cook until the gravy thickens and reduced.
5) Add salt to taste. Then add the remaining coconut cream and continue to cook until the sauce has reduced.
6) I prefer this dish to have very little gravy but you could have more by reducing the cooking time.