I regularly cook Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Thai food at home, but for some reason I’d never really ventured into the realms of Indonesian cuisine before. Not properly anyway. The delicious meal I had with my cousin Elvira at an Indonesian restaurant about a week ago made me realise it was time for things to change. I’d been meaning to make a version of rendang hati ayam – spicy chicken liver curry – for a while now. The combination of chicken liver – something I mainly associate with paté – and the spicy, tangy, aromatic flavours of an Indonesian curry was something that fascinated me. I know that a lot of people don’t like liver, or offal in general, and while some of that might be attributed to taste or texture, I feel that this is a psychological issue more than anything else. When you choose to eat meat, I personally think it is important to be able to acknowledge that what you’re eating was once part of an actual living animal. The fact that many people can’t face this idea means most offal disappears into processed meat products, but it also means that chicken livers are ridiculously cheap. In this recipe, any qualms you might have about texture will be taken away by the short cooking time (smooth and slightly rosy, not grey and gritty) and the addition of fresh, crunchy sticks of cucumber. Still worried about taste? Trust me, the fragrant flavours of this curry will make anything taste good. If after all this, you are still not convinced you can always substitute the livers for chopped chicken thighs or even tofu. I promise I won’t judge you.
Ingredients for 2:
250 g organic free-range chicken livers
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
chunk of ginger, grated
1 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped
2 dried bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
200 ml coconut milk
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into strips
large pinch of mild yellow curry powder
1 mild red chilli, deseeded and cut into very thin strips
- Coarsely chop the livers and remove any nasty bits
- Make a bumbu (Indonesian curry paste) by grinding the shallot, garlic, dried chillies, turmeric, ginger and lemongrass with a little bit of oil to a (semi-)smooth paste.
- Fry the bumbu in some more oil for about 5 minutes
- Add the curry powder and the chopped livers and fry for about 2 minutes, until the livers are properly seared on all sides.
- Add the coconut milk and salt and boil for another 3 minutes.
- Right before serving, add the cucumber sticks.
- Garnish with strips of fresh red chilli and serve with plain white rice to soak up the sauce.