I've made this dish before with a few variations, usually changing it slightly everytime I make it. You can find a variety of pastes (comes in a small can) in Asian grocery stores, the one I have is quite spicy. You can brown the chicken before adding it to the sauce if you like instead of poaching it in the sauce. I usually like to cook my chicken first, then add it to the curry and coconut milk mixture and let it simmer for an hour or so while I do other stuff. This tenderizes the chicken more and allows it to absorb the sauce. I also like to use chicken thigh instead of breast. I usually add some onions, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, bamboo shoots, napa cabbage, and sometimes potato, avocado, or taro. You can pretty much add anything. If you decide to add carrot, I recommend either cooking the carrots well first or letting it stew in the sauce for a long time, otherwise it will be very hard and crunchy which I do not find texturally pleasant for this dish. I would add the vegetables halfway through, maybe give it at least 30 minutes to stew in the sauce unless you like it very crunchy. I did not add the leaves or basil and it tasted just fine. I used regular sugar instead of palm and use coconut cream to thicken the sauce or make more of it as we like to mix it with the rice. You can add jalapenos or a finely diced habanero to add more heat to it as well.
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I've made this dish before with a few variations, usually changing it slightly everytime I...