Saveur Malaysie’s Creamy ‘Masak Lemak’ Curry with Kale, Paku (Wild Ferns) and Prawns

Creamy ‘masak lemak’ curry with kale, paku (wild ferns) and prawns. ‘Masak lemak cili api’ is a traditional Malay curry that’s said to originate from the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan. It’s cooked in the richness of coconut milk and fragrant Asian spices like lemongrass and turmeric. When you combine kale in a spicy stew with flavourful spices, it tenderises, and voila…

  • 15 bird’s eye chillies

  • 5 shallots

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 2 inch turmeric root

  • 2 stalks lemongrass

  • 2 bunches coriander

  • 2 medium bunches kale

  • 1 large bunch wild ferns (pucuk paku)

  • 6 prawns, deveined, shells on

  • 2 tamarind slices

  • Salt and sugar

  • 200ml coconut milk

  1. Rinse the veggies well. Select the softest part at the fern tip and some leaves; discard the bottom half. Discard top half of lemongrass, remove dried-out layers, bash the woody end with a rolling pin to release the aromatic oils. Remove the hard stems from the kale and slice the leaves into 1 1/2 inch.
  2. Blend chillies, shallots, garlic and turmeric. Heat up oil in a wok and stir fry the blended spices. Add lemongrass and chopped coriander. Fry until aromatic.
  3. Put the prawns in. If the gravy is dry, add some water.
  4. Add tamarind slices, season with sugar and salt.
  5. Pour in coconut milk and leave to boil. Add veggies and cook until just wilted. 6. Garnish and serve with steamed rice.