The khaao ngohp gai (ข้าวงบไก่) recipe by Mom Chao Sai Ladawan (Princess Saisawali Phirom) evokes the flavor and aesthetics of Muslim-style cooking. First, cooked rice, chicken, and chicken offal are fried with butter and perfumed with whole spices. The buttery fried rice is wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled, forming a crispy outer crust of spiced-infused rice grains.
The grilled rice parcels are served alongside a small bowl of a cooling, sour-sweet coconut-vinegar relish of fresh vegetables called ajat angwa (อาจาดอังวะ). According to the prevailing Muslim culinary tradition, this sour-leading relish pairs well with the buttery-fried rice and the warm dried spices; the relish helps to cleanse the palate of greasiness while easing digestion and stimulating the appetite.
The use of vinegar is common for pickling, flavoring, preserving and softening vegetables. Ajat relish – made solely from vinegar, salt and sugar – is a common accompaniment to rich, oily and heavy foods. In ajat angwa, the essential creaminess, sourness and consistency of the relish are achieved through the judicious addition of water and vinegar; the relish is further deepened with freshly squeezed coconut cream tinted gold by simmering it with fresh turmeric.
While the grilled rice parcels can be prepared well in advance, the ajat angwa relish is prepared to be eaten immediately. Like pickles, the relish adds a fresh dimension to the meal; it contributes color to the table and revives dull appetites.
Note: Marinating the chicken with nutmeg is an effective method of deodorizing the irony and gamy odors of the bird and its offal.
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- 1 cup chicken meat (เนื้อไก่) thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon2 chicken liver (ตับไก่) thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon chicken gizzard (กึ๋นไก่) thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (พริกไทย) (S1) roasted and grounded
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg seed (ลูกจันทน์เทศ) (S5) roasted and grounded
For the fried rice:
- 2 cups cooked rice (ข้าวสวย)
- 1/2 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee) (เนยกี) or butter (เนย)
- 10 pieces Siam Cardamom pods (luuk grawaan) (ลูกกระวาน) (S4) roasted whole
- 10 pieces clove (กานพลู) (S7) roasted whole
- fish sauce (น้ำปลา) as needed
For the ajaat angwa (อาจาดอังวะ)
- 1 cup coconut middle cream (กลางกะทิ) dilute coconut cream with water at 1:1 ratio.
- 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric (ขมิ้นชัน) peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)
- 1 tablespoon 5% white vinegar (น้ําส้มสายชู)
- 2 tablespoons ginger (ขิง) minced
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (งาขาว) roasted
- cucumber (แตงกวา)
- shallots (หอมแดง)
- Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)
- yardlong beans (ถั่วฝักยาว)
- Banana leaf (ใบตอง)
Prepare the banana leaf wraps or containers:
- Lightly pass fresh banana leaves over an open fire until they soften. Choose a wrapping style, then cut the banana leaf to the appropriate shape. Set aside.
Marinate the chicken:
- Cut the chicken meat into thin slices, and the chicken liver into bite-size pieces. Cut the chicken gizzard into very thin slices, as it tends to be chewy.
- Roast and grind the white peppercorns and nutmeg seed until fragrant. Set aside.
- Marinate the chicken for 20 minutes with salt and the ground roasted spices.
Prepare the fried rice:
- Roast the Siam cardamom and clove whole until fragrant and set aside. Both are used whole and are not grounded. Set aside.
- In a well-seasoned wok over medium-high heat, fry the marinated chicken meat in butter or ghee until it is halfway cooked.
- Add the garlic and stir fry it until fragrant; don’t allow it to brown.
- Sprinkle some water or stock into the wok to deglaze the wok before adding the whole spices.
- Add the rice and fry it with the chicken until the rice grains are dry and evenly fried.
- Taste and adjust the saltiness with fish sauce as needed. Set the fried rice aside.
- Place two pieces of banana leaf on top of each other, keeping the waxy-shiny side facing out. Next, scoop out the mixed rice and place it on the banana leaves. Wrap the rice in banana leaves into equal-size parcels. You can make these parcels as large or small as you wish.
- Grill the banana leaf wraps over low heat on a charcoal grill until the banana leaves char, and the rice develops a crust and absorbs the grill smoke.
- Place the grilled rice on a serving plate with sliced shallots, sliced cucumber, and yardlong beans. Garnish with thinly julienned ginger and coriander leaves. Serve alongside a sour-sweet coconut-base vegetable relish (อาจาดอังวะ; aajaat angwa)
Prepare the sour-sweet coconut-base vegetable relish (อาจาดอังวะ; aajaat angwa):
- In a pot, heat coconut cream diluted with water. Add sliced fresh turmeric and simmer on low heat until the coconut cream becomes a golden yellow.
- Season to a sour-sweet-salty profile. Add salt at the ratios indicated.
- Add granulated sugar at the ratios indicated.
- Add vinegar at the ratios indicated.
- Allow the coconut to cool to room temperature before adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the minced ginger.
- Add the roasted white sesame seeds.
- Add the rest of the sliced vegetables.