- Coconut oil (3-4 tablespoons, you can use vegetable oil)
- Whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
- Fresh turmeric root (1 inch, you can use 1 teaspoon turmeric powder instead)
- Ginger root (1 inch)
- Garlic cloves (6-7 cloves)
- Red onions (3 medium; sliced)
- Lemongrass stalks (3-4; outer layers peeled)
- Kaffir lime leaves (2 washed and torn; optional)
- Pandan leaves (2-3 washed and knotted; optional)
- Coriander Powder (1 1/2 tablespoons)
- Cumin Powder (1 teaspoon)
- Unsweetened coconut milk (1 liter (35 ounces) diluted with about 500 milliliters (17.5 ounces) water)
- Salt (to taste)
Preheat oven to 180°C/ 350°F and set your oven rack such that your pot rests in the middle of your oven for even cooking and browned top.
Dry whole chicken, season with a big pinch of sea salt and set aside.
Wash and peel fresh turmeric, ginger and cut off the fibrous top part of lemongrass stalks . Using a pestle and mortar/ blender, give turmeric, ginger, lemongrass and the garlic cloves (with their skins) a bashing till they become a very course paste. Set aside.
In a heavy based, medium-large ovenproof pot (preferably cast iron pot) over medium-high flame, heat enough coconut oil to coat the bottom of pot. Once hot, add whole chicken and brown both sides of chicken. A large pair of tongs helps. Set aside once browned.
In the same pot, stir-fry the sliced red onions till translucent and then quickly add all the bashed aromatics, kaffir lime leaves (if using), pandan leaves (if using) and cook for a couple of minutes until they are aromatic.
Add the coriander and cumin powders with a splash of water and cook all the aromatics for till the raw smell of the spices go away. Add a splash of water if pot is getting too dry.
Return brown chicken to the pot together with diluted coconut milk. The coconut milk should come up just about halfway up the chicken sides. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the coconut milk, cover the pot tightly with lid/foil and cook for about 50 minutes.
When the chicken is about three-quarters done, remove the lid/foil, check for seasoning and more salt if required and return uncovered pot to oven. Continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is crisp and brown on top and cooked. The joints will obviously pull away from body and the curry would have reduced considerably.
Serve with rice or bread.