Kapitan soy sauce chicken is a traditional Straits Chinese dish that’s deliciously flavoured with a rich blend of Asian spices, namely, lemon grass, turmeric, candlenuts, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorn, and braised in a lightly seasoned tamarind sauce enhanced with dried tamarind peel.
Each bite into the sauce-coated, tender chicken flesh rewards you with wonderful bursts of sweet, sour, tangy and savoury flavours, all delicately balanced and in perfect harmony. This dish originates from Malaysia, and is prepared and served traditionally as a curry dish, or Kapitan Chicken Curry.
I have read elsewhere that Kapitan curry was named for ‘Kapitan China‘, a title which was bestowed upon the head of the Chinese clans in the state of Melaka situated on peninsular Malaysia, by the Portuguese in the 15th century. In Penang, you will often see the word ‘Kapitan’ widely used and associated with Malaysian food and cuisine.
In this Kapitan soy sauce chicken version, coconut milk is deliberately omitted – in its place, sour, tangy tamarind juice is used to complement the earthy, spicy and pungent spices, and as the braising liquid for the chicken. The result – a truly appetite-whetting, zesty dish! You can enjoy eating this with nothing else but steamed Jasmine rice, chilled cucumber slices and hard-boiled eggs, quartered, on the side.