Sutter Home Book Club: Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials
In this month’s Sutter Home Book Club pick, Aunty’s Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu, Rosie “Aunty” Lee’s is back in another delectable mystery. When a scandal involving prominent citizens and illegal organ donation makes the news, the feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and owner of Singapore’s best loved home-cooking restaurant has to prove her suspicions to save her business, her reputation, and her life.
Aunty Lee’s Easy Candlenut Chicken Curry
(When in a hurry, any curry is better than none!)
Buah Keluak can be difficult to find, even if you don’t believe it’s deadly. But a good alternative is the candlenut, the small round nuts pictured on the book’s cover. Aunty Lee loves the way candlenuts give a nutty, slightly bitter flavor to a curry mix. If you can’t buy candlenuts where you live, you can always substitute macadamias.
Ideally, the rempah curry mix would be pounded by hand, but for now, use your food processor. If you use fresh (deseeded) chilies and turmeric instead of chili powder and turmeric powder, good for you—they go in the blender too.
Ingredients (enough to feed four adults or two ravenous teenagers)
1 lb. chicken, cut into even-sized chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion (preferably red), peeled and chopped
1 cup chicken broth (or water and a bouillon cube)
1 cup coconut milk
Rempah Curry Ingredients
5 candlenuts (or macadamias)
2 cloves of garlic
Half an inch of peeled ginger
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. of chili powder
2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. vinegar
Blend in a food processor, adding a little oil to make a smooth paste.
Ingredients to be added to taste:
Salt (approx. ½ tsp.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs. sugar (the secret ingredient)
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the chopped onion. Add the blender paste, continuing to fry until it darkens and becomes fragrant.
Add the chicken, and stir fry until the chicken is coated with the curry paste. Add the potatoes. Stir in the chicken broth, salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. After the liquid is reduced, stir in enough coconut milk to create the consistency you prefer (soupy or just saucy), and simmer for about five minutes more. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with bread or rice and Aunty Lee’s Amazing Achar.