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One of Singapore’s greatest assets is its wet markets, full of exoticm authentic food and where every day some of the nation’s oldest butchers and fishmongers chop, cut, scale and fillet fresh foods any way you desire. And among the most colourful of these bastions of all foods fresh and local: Tekka Centre in Little India. Just this week, I visited the market with MasterChef Australia Season 4 finalist, Audra Morrice.

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Tekka Market has been the heart and soul of Little India since the early days. Previously known as Kandang Kerbau, the centre is used by Chinese vendors, Indian stall owners and Malay retailers, and sells everything from casual clothing, hardware tools and religious paraphernalia, to traditional Indian fashion and watches.

We were all given a task, that is to cook Nonya Curry Chicken using Audra’s recipe. So during the food tour in Tekka, Audra helped us picked up some ingredients used for cooking curry.

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Audra Morrice is a cook and a mother, best known as the finalist in MasterChef 2012 who produced some of the most consistent and amazing dishes on the show. Acknowledged for her ability to both cook and bake, she was a favourite in this series of MasterChef.

Born to a Chinese mother and Indian father, Audra spent her formative years in the culturally rich heritage of Singapore. Audra graduated from Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand, with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Japanese and spent much of her working career in telecommunications in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. Despite a very successful career in telco, winning multiple sales awards over the past several years, Audra’s passion was clearly in food and decided to follow her dream. In 2012, she took a break from work to compete in MasterChef.

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There are several types of dried chillies. For this recipe please choose the type that are about finger sized. The smaller ones are very hot and the broader, larger ones mild. Also please never replace dried chillies with fresh ones as they don’t impart the smokiness of flavour and depth of colour required for this dish.

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Here’s us at Tekka market and happy with our items! If I were to cook curry, I would always go to the market and ask the Indian aunty to pack a ready made curry powder for me. But for Audra’s recipe, we have to make the rempah from scratch! Hope I succeed!

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Audra’s style of food is eclectically Asian drawing influence from her Chinese Indian heritage. And hence, Nonya Chicken Curry is definitely one of her specialty! I sat on the floor and pound my ingredients using mortar and pestle. I was little afraid while attempting to make my own rempah. But it turned out to be a satisfying experience especially when my rempah smells so good. It felt like I had conjured magic, to make a dish like this and have it hitting all those familiar notes! WOOHOO!

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Ingredients:
1kg whole chicken, cut into 12-14 pieces
240g or 5 small potatoes, peels and halved

Rempah:
1 large onion, peels and cut into wedges
1 tbsp or 10g long dried red chillies, soaked in hot water, drained, coarsely groun
1 tbsp or 2 long fresh red chillies, coarsely ground
4 cm piece fresh tumeric or 1 tsp ground tumeric
4 cm piece galangal, sliced
4 cm piece ginger, skinned
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 candlenuts
1 rounded tsp balachan, wrapped in foil and toasted in a dry pan until fragrant
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only
2 tbsp ground coriander
oil

1 pandan, tied to a knot
2 kaffir lime leaf
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Method:
1. In a blender or mortar and pestle, grind onion, chillies, tumeric, galangal, ginger, garlic, candlenuts and balachan to a paste.

2. Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large pot, add the rempah and lemongrass and cook on medium heat until fragrant. Add the ground coriander and cook for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add chicken pieces, pandan and kaffir lime leaves. Stir until well coated, then add the potatoes and coconut milk, stir well and cook until both chicken and potatoes are cooked and tender. Season with salt and sugar. Be careful not to break up the potatoes when stirring.

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Most curry dishes involve a rempah and if you are a fan, you can make a big batch, keep some in the fridge, or even freeze it for later. I like to use a mortar and pestle because I feel it brings out the flavour much better. And my grandpa has been my great assistant and hand model. Hope you love it as much as I do. I cut down abit on the coconut because I wanted it to be more dry. As I am typing this blog post, I can still smell the chilli, garlic and onion fragrance on my hands. So niceeeee!

Thank you Lifetime Channel for bringing Audra Morrice back home to Singapore.