Weekend Bites: Madagascan chicken in coconut milk, not your average ‘opor’
Paper Edition | Page: 16
I was once asked to cater an event showcasing Madagascar. I didn’t know much about the island nation’s typical cuisine but, to my surprise, I discovered I am familiar with many of the ingredients. The fresh produce used is found in Indonesian markets as well. The main staple is also rice — often red — and influences from Indian, Arabian and Chinese cultures make the cuisine similar to Indonesian cooking in many respects.
Take Akoho sy Voanio for example. This Madagascan chicken in coconut milk reminds me of Soto Betawi (beef offal soup with coconut milk, typical of Jakarta). I thought this dish would go well with ketupat (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves, traditionally eaten at Idul Fitri) and make a quick alternative to Opor Ayam (chicken coconut milk stew).
And you can prepare it within 30 minutes — perfect for emergencies like unexpected guests!
Serves 4 to 5
1 whole (500 g) chicken breast, cut into 3-cm cubes
2 to 3 round tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cm (30 g) fresh ginger, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper/chili powder
1 chili pepper, deseed and finely diced, (optional)
500 ml thick coconut milk
Groundnut or canola oil
• Parsley or coriander leaves, for garnish
• Pour just enough oil to cover the bottom of a pan. Place over a low heat and sweat the onion until it is translucent. • Add garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. Continue cooking until fragrant.
• Add the chicken along with some salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium high and stir occasionally. Once the chicken starts to turn white, pour in the coconut milk and cook for about 5 minutes until it boils.
• By now, the chicken should be done. Don’t overcook or it will become hard and dry — the main reason why many people don’t like chicken breast.
• Add the tomatoes and simmer for another minute just to heat them through; they should only be slightly cooked.
• Garnish with some fresh parsley or coriander and serve over the red coconut rice or the ketupat, if you prefer.
Red coconut rice
250 g red rice
250 ml water
250 ml thick coconut milk
• Rinse the rice under running water to remove any impurities it may have.
• Put it, along with the coconut milk, water and salt, in the rice cooker, turn it on and wait until the rice is cooked. It is as easy as that.
•In case you don’t have a rice cooker, put everything in a saucepan. Cover and cook over your stove’s lowest heat setting until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. It should take around 20 minutes.
• Turn the heat off and let stand with the lid on for about 15 minutes. The steam trapped inside will continue to cook the rice.
• Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
— All photos by Theodora Hurustiati