Spicy chicken stew

Neil Perry
A cross between chicken stew and curry.
A cross between chicken stew and curry. Photo: William Meppem

This dish is half curry, half stew, and totally delicious.


2 tomatoes, cored and quartered

4 sticks cinnamon

5 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp sea salt

500g boneless and skinless chicken thigh fillets (organic, if possible), thickly sliced

3 tbsp grated palm sugar

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp tamarind water

1 small handful sweet Thai basil leaves

Spice paste

3 candlenuts, roasted until golden and chopped

6 long red chillies, chopped

3 red shallots, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2cm knob ginger, peeled and chopped

2cm knob galangal, chopped

2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, chopped

1 finger of fresh turmeric, chopped


1. To make the spice paste, pound all the ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle to a fine paste. Alternatively, process the ingredients with a blender, adding a little water, if necessary.

2. Place the spice paste, tomatoes, cinnamon, lime leaves and sea salt in a large heavy-based pot. Add 1 litre of water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer very gently for about 90 minutes.

3. Add the chicken, return the sauce to the boil, then simmer for about 8 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is cooked.

4. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water, then adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Stir through the basil leaves to serve.