Taste this: Devil’s Curry

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

For those who haven’t got the picture, this curry’s name is derived from its hellfire-like spiciness. A mash-up of Asian spices with Portuguese elements, this dish will test your taste buds

 

What is it?
This is a curry made with a melange of meats – pork and/or chicken with sausages – cooked in a fiery chilli paste comprised of familiar Southeast Asian ingredients such as candlenuts, ginger and lemongrass.

 

Origin
Devil’s curry originated with the Kristang people, a Eurasian group of Portuguese and Malay descent that arose in the 16th century. Their cuisine is a blend of Portuguese and Malay styles and is particularly notable in Melaka (Malaysia) and Singapore. Legend has it that this dish, with its multiple meats, first came into being as a way of dealing with Christmas dinner leftovers.

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Tasting
Devil’s curry looks like a sloppy mess. And the contents? Traditionally an unholy marriage of leftovers, where sausages are tossed in with the roast chicken. Yet devil’s curry somehow comes together in beguiling fashion. The key to the dish is the complex curry paste made with a heap of red chillies combined with shallots, lemongrass, garlic, galangal, ginger and turmeric. The essential ingredients, though, are mustard seeds and vinegar, which together impart a sour and tangy flavour that cuts through the heat of the chillies. These days, short of crashing a Eurasian Christmas dinner in Singapore or Melaka, to sample devil’s curry you’ll have to fi nd a Eurasian restaurant or cook it yourself. Like most curries, it develops further overnight, so cook a big pot and leave some for leftovers.

 

Finding it
In Singapore, try it at Quentin’s (www.quentins.com). In Melaka, visit Restaurant Nyonya Makko (123 Jalan Merdeka, Taman Melaka Raya). Expect to pay US$15 to $20.

 

Variations 
Modern-day devil’s curry is made with fresh meat. Though of Malay origin, the Kristang people aren’t Muslims and have no qualms cooking it with pork instead of chicken. If you’re a fan of offal, you’re in luck as it tastes great in this curry. Some chefs add veggies such as cabbage, carrots, snow peas and/or French beans in order to turn it into a one-dish wonder. You can reduce the amount of chillies to tone down the heat.

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This extract is adapted from The World’s Best Spicy Food © Lonely Planet 2014 www.lonelyplanet.com.  Priced at £14.99, Lonely Planet’s new title is out now and full of must eat dishes for hungry heat lovers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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