for the chicken:
- 800g skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4cm pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1-2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
for the paste:
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 4 keffir lime leaves, fresh or dried (if you cannot find, replace with finely grated zest of 1/2 organic lime)
- 2 fresh lemongrass stalks
- 3-4 whole green bird’s eye chillies, stalks removed
- 1 thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 100g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander (50g), leaves only (unless the stems are young and tender, in which case include)
for the curry:
- 400ml (1 can) full-fat, pure coconut milk (unshaken and refrigerated, so the coconut cream can be scooped off the top)
- 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 small head of broccoli, core removed and chopped into bite-size florets
- 1 small tin of bamboo shoots, drained (230g net, 140g drained)
- freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
- Tenderise the chicken. Put the chicken in a non-metallic bowl. Add the salt and lime juice, and massage into the meat. Cover, transfer to the fridge, and leave to marinate for 30 minutes – 2 hours (do not marinate for longer than this, as the lime juice will toughen the meat).
- Make the curry paste. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the whole spices (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and lime leaves), and dry fry for 1 – 2 minutes, or until they release a fragrant aroma. Tip the toasted spices into a spice grinder and grind until finely ground (if you do not have a spice grinder, then use a pestle and mortar or the small bowl of a food processor). Set aside.
- Cut off the woody root tip of each lemongrass stalk until you reach the purple-tinted rings. Trim off the top third of the dry stalk. Remove and discard the loose, dry outer layer, to expose a denser inner stalk. Finely slice the stalk into rings. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and pound to release the fragrant oils. Scrape into the small bowl of a food processor.
- Add the remaining paste ingredients to the food processor (chillies, ginger, garlic, shallots and coriander), and blitz until smooth. Tip in the toasted spice mix, and blitz the whole lot to a smooth paste. If the mixture needs loosening, add a small amount of water.
- Brown the chicken. Heat half the cooking oil in a heavy-based casserole over a medium-high heat. When a few drops of water sizzle and evaporate upon contact with the pan, add the chicken. Sear the chicken in 2-3 batches until browned all over with a caramelised crust – about 4-5 minutes a batch. Add more cooking oil if necessary. Do not overcrowd the pan, as this will cause the chicken to stew rather than brown. Transfer the browned chicken to a bowl.
- Fry the paste. Open the can of coconut milk. The thick fat should have separated from the thin coconut water, and risen to the top of the can to form a solid white layer (coconut cream). Spoon out half of the coconut solids into the casserole, making sure you leave behind the coconut water that is in the bottom 1/4 or so of the can. Bring to the boil, and then fry over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until it starts to split and curdle as the oil separates out – about 3-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and scrape in the curry paste. Cook until the oil starts to separate again, stirring frequently – about 3-5 minutes (it is important not to rush this stage, as it develops flavour and stops the spices from tasting raw).
- Simmer the sauce. Add the rest of the coconut milk (solids and water), coconut palm sugar and fish sauce. Stir until blended. Bring to a simmer, and then add the broccoli florets. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the casserole, and stir until evenly coated in sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Stir occasionally, being careful not to break up the broccoli florets.
- Once the chicken is cooked, add the bamboo shoots. Cook until warmed through – about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in half the lime juice. Taste, and add more lime juice and seasoning if necessary. Transfer into a serving dish and serve hot.