Preparation / Directions:
* If you use canned coconut milk, you must use water.
This is a real Vietnamese curry. Although adapted from the Indian, which is always made with white potatoes, the Vietnamese version has the option of using white or sweet potatoes, the latter being greatly favored by the Vietnamese. The Indian influence is greatest in the South, where curried dishes are more popular than elsewhere in Vietnam.
This is usually served with noodles as a party dish. When it is part of a family meal, it is eaten with rice. Bach serves this to her children for breakfast, when it is served with French bread--another influence on the cuisine of Vietnam.
If you are using fresh lemon grass, simply remove the outer leaves and upper two-thirds of the stalks, then cut the remainder into 2-inch lengths. If you are, using, it must be soaked in warm water for 2 hours, then drained and chopped fine.
Combine the curry powder, black pepper, sugar, add salt and marinate the chicken in the mixture for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil and fry the potatoes over high heat until brown. (It is not necessary to completely cook potatoes at this point, only to brown them.) When well browned, remove from the pan and set aside until ready to cook the curry. Pour off most of the oil from the pan, leaving 2 tablespoons for cooking the chicken.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high flame. Fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add the bay leaves, onion, and lemon grass; stir briefly and add the marinated chicken, stirring long enough to sear the meat slightly. Add the 2 cups of water and carrot, then cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes; uncover and stir, then cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover and add the prefried potatoes, the coconut milk, and the milk. Cover again and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve with rice, Rice Sticks, or Japanese Alimentary Paste Noodles.
From "The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam", Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman, Barron's, 1979