I shouldn't be posting this horrible mess. But what the heck! This Masak Lemak Cili Padi (MLCP) was doomed right from the get go. Just look at it. The gravy is thin and watery and those messy looking bits are the coarsely pounded spice paste. Gaarkk....
It started with these half dead cili padi. Found buried underneath my heap of vegetables in the fridge drawer.
And not only that, I found two small bundles of almost dead serai (lemongrass). They were all shriveled but still had the lemongrass fragrance. I don't like to waste. It was the cili padi that got me thinking of MLCP. A dish that had me intrigued some years back because the recipe called for 20 cili padi. 20!!
Then I poked around for ginger. My ginger was also expiring and it was a bit wrinkled. As for kunyit (turmeric), I had fresh ones because I just bought them to cook something else (which I didn't).
I defrosted two chicken legs and I found 3 packets of santan in the pantry. I only needed one, so I was all set. But the santan was not the usual brand that I like.
So, now I had to pound the spice paste - cili padi, ginger, turmeric and lemongrass. What? No onions? No garlic? Nope, there are neither onions nor garlic in the recipe. Right. Pound, pound, pound. The serai was old and fibrous and at the end of the session, I had coarse strands in my spice paste.
After checking the recipe again, I put the spice paste, turmeric leaf (from my garden) and chicken in a casserole dish and added water. Just bring to the boil until the chicken is tender before adding thick santan.
I didn't have potatoes, so I added the 3 hard boiled eggs that were sitting in the fridge since...since don't know when. By now, you can see that this dish was an excuse to use up expiring ingredients (cili padi, lemongrass, ginger and eggs).
When it was time to add santan, disaster! The santan was so very watery. I cannot believe it. The usual brand that I use, Harmuni, is very thick. But I couldn't get that brand and hence picked up two other brands to try. So I tossed it and opened another pack. This one was not that watery but still not thick enough. That left me with no choice but to use it.
After adding salt, I had a taste. Not bad. This curry actually taste pretty good. And of course it was hot due to the cili padi. But not so hot that I could not tolerate it. This MLCP is promising and I have to cook it again.
This below average dish is due to me using less than pristine ingredients. I should know better. Always use fresh ingredients. Don't try to save near expired ingredients, just toss it!
But having said that, this MLCP was edible and I actually slurped quite a bit of the diluted gravy. Imagine what it would be like had I used fresh and proper ingredients.
I will attempt this dish again sometime soon and share the recipe. I did question the absence of onions and garlic. How could anything taste good without onions or garlic? Trust me, MLCP is a very tasty dish in spite of the absence of my two must-have ingredients.