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Gulai Ayam & Roti Jala {Coconut Milk Chicken Curry & Lacy Coconut Milk Pancakes}

Okay, so.  I made this last month.  And I'm just now posting it.  Story of my life.  How does time fly by so fast?  And without me even seeing it until it's in the rearview?  I do not know.  Anyhoo.

I started making this early enough in the day that not everybody was hanging out in the kitchen yet.  The kids were doing homework or watching tv or running wild, I can't remember.  Hubs was at his usual station in his work shop (aka the garage).  But once I had it sort of all together and simmering on the stove, hubs walks in and lets out one of those involuntary "ooohhh" or "mmmmmm" sounds as soon as he opened the side door (which is off of the kitchen). So of course he moseys over to see what's cooking.

Hubs: "Oh!  Are you making mole?"

Me: "No.  Well.  Sort of, actually.  Penang mole."

Hubs: {eyebrows raised...quiet...shrugs}  "Okay.  Smells good."
And really, although this is not Mexican in origin, it does resemble a mole pretty darn closely.  Layers of flavor built up using spices, herbs, and veggies.  Liquid is added to make a sauce (ahem...mole).  Meat and veggies are given a warm bath and infused with the savory essence before being served in it.  And eaten with some roti jala...or crepes, basically (ahem...tortillas).    So sure, I'm making Penangian (!?) Mole.

And we enjoyed it just as we would have enjoyed a mole dish.  There was a pleasant, slow heat lingering inside of this complex, flavorful sauce.  And although it got a big messy trying to eat it wrapped in a lacy pancake (tortillas don't have holes), we managed.  And we liked it.

Gulai Ayan (Coconut Milk Chicken Curry)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: up to 45 minutes
Keywords: simmer entree chicken coconut milk Indian

Ingredients (serves 4)
    rempeh (curry paste)
    • 4 dried red chiles
    • 1 (2") cinnamon stick
    • 4 whole cloves
    • 2 Tbs. coriander seed
    • 1 Tbs. cumin seed
    • 1 tsp. fennel seed
    • ½ tsp. turmeric
    • 8 oz. shallots, peeled
    • 1 (1") piece fresh ginger, peeled & finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
    • 6 macadamia nuts
    • 2 lbs. chicken thighs, bone-in (or breasts, legs, or a mix)
    • 2 large red potatoes, cut into ½" chunks
    • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
    • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, cut into 2" lengths & flattened w/ side of a knife
    • 14 oz. (1¾ c.) coconut milk
    • 1 c. water
    • 2 tsp. salt
    Soak chiles in warm water for ~15 minutes. Drain the water and pull off the stems. If you wish, chop the chicken into 2" chunks with a heavy knife.

    In a small, heavy skillet, toast the cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, ~3 minutes. Remove from heat and pound very fine using a mortar and pestle or grind in a spice mill. Add turmeric and set aside.

    Place drained chiles, shallots, ginger, garlic, and nuts in a food processor and grind to a paste.

    Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chile paste and fry for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the spice mixture and sauté for another minute while stirring. Add the chicken and turn until well-coated with curry paste. Add lemon grass, potatoes, 1 cup of the coconut milk, and the water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium heat until chicken is tender, 30-40 minutes, stirring from time to time.

    Add salt and stir in remaining ¾ cup of coconut milk. Cook 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

    To make a boneless curry, start with 1¼ lbs. skinless, boneless chicken which will cook a bit quicker, start checking after 20 minutes or so.

    slightly adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors
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    Serve this delicious curry with Roti Jala.  If you don't have a roti jala pourer, you can make your own by punching 6 holes through a small tin can from the inside out.  I used a long nail and a hammer...and widened them a bit with a wide screw.  I then sanded off the jagged edges on the bottom...washed voila!

    Roti Jala (Lacy Coconut Milk Pancakes/Crepes)

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: ~2 minutes each
    Keywords: bread side vegetarian coconut milk Indian

    Ingredients (~20 crepes)
    • 1 c. all-purpose flour
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 10 oz. coconut milk, stirred well
    • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
    • 1 large egg
    • oil for skillet
    Sift flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add coconut milk, vegetable oil, and egg. Stir well until a smooth dough forms. Let stand, covered, for ~30 minutes.

    Heat a 10" cast-iron skillet until hot. Pour about a teaspoon of the oil on the skillet, then wipe off with a paper towel. Lower heat to medium.

    Test consistency of the batter. It should be pourable but not watery.

    Stir batter, then pour a scant 1/2 cup into a roti jala pourer*, holding it over the skillet, and immediately start moving the pourer in a continuous circular motion over skillet to create overlapping layers in the pan, keeping pourer ~3-4 inches above skillet.

    Cook 30 seconds or so, until you see the roti starting to lift slightly at the edges. Using a spatula, flip it over and cook the other side for 30 seconds to a minute, until slightly golden. Lift out of pan and place in a basket, or on a plate, wrapped in a cloth. Cook remaining batter in same way. Serve warm.

    If you do not have a roti jala pourer, you can make one by opening a small tin can at one end and punching six holes in the other (using a hammer and a long nail or drill bit) end, punching from the inside out. Or try a squeeze bottle with the end snipped open a bit wider. Get creative!

    slightly adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors
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    And I'm almost embarrassed to admit that this was our Flatbreads & Flavors challenge from the second half of February.  Eek.  I'm only half a month or so tardy.  Does it count that I actually made it in the correct time frame...just didn't post it?  I'm thinking yes.

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