Dicing with Death — Tweaking Mom’s Kari Ayam Recipe

Chicken Curry Recipe
2 whole chickens with organs
Rempah Kari
1 big coconut, grated
2 handful shallots, peeled
Some garlic
Potatoes, boiled and quartered
Yellow onions, cut in rings
Cooking oil, salt and sugar to taste.

That’s it! That’s the precious recipe as mom had told me.
But how much of each precisely? I asked. How many grams or teaspoons?
Agak-Agak lah! (guess or estimate)
And that’s the problem with Peranakan cooking. Mom (and grandma) never gave precise measures, but they expect their methods for cooking and preparation to be strictly adhered to. They won’t say how many degrees C should the oil be, or how long should I fry it. It’s all Agak-Agak. Instead, I’m expected to have my nose open to smell the fragrance, my eyes open to see the size of the bubbles in the oil, my ears open to hear the intensity of sizzling and my brains in gear to know how brown is sufficient as residual heat will further brown it. I needed to have some combination of all four to tell when anything is ready. I hated that, as it meant I had to spend hours cooking in order to experience the subtle nuances of that magical moment is when food cooked to the correct timing makes the metamorphosis from yuck to Ummmmmmmmaaaaai! So I’ll do for you, what I want others do unto me. I’ll give you the details in the discourse below. So you need not Agak-Agak.

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