Malaysian Chicken Curry

May 28, 2019
Malaysian Chicken Curry

Author Notes: A Malaysian classic, often one of the first curries all Malaysians learn from their mom. The rich and spicy base, combined with the comforting flavors of chicken and potatoes, makes for a cozy, curried meal.Yi Jun Loh

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min


  • 6 shallots
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • a 2-inch piece of ginger
  • 5 dried red chillies
  • 2 Thai red chillies (optional, added for extra spice)
  • 5 tablespoons oil
  • 5 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • 2.5 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 4 cups water, or more to cover
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
In This Recipe


  1. In a food processor, blend the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, dried chillies, and fresh chillies until they form a smooth paste. (Alternatively, you can take the more traditional, and more laborious route—pounding it with a mortar and pestle until it’s smooth.)
  2. Heat up the oil in a deep pot or wok set over medium heat. Add in the blended paste and stir-fry until it turns fragrant and intensifies in color. This should take 6-8 minutes.
  3. Then, add in the curry powder, chilli powder, and salt. Fry them all for another 3-5 minutes, until the spice paste starts to glisten and split, and you can see an oily film separate from the paste itself. This is the “pecah minyak” stage. (If your paste is cooking too quickly and starts to burn, add in a teaspoon or two of water.)
  4. When the spice paste has reached the “pecah minyak” stage, add in the cinnamon stick, star anise, curry leaves, and the pieces of chicken. Mix and continue frying for 3-5 minutes, until the chicken is evenly coated in the curry paste. Then, pour water into the pot until the pieces of chicken are just covered. Cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the potatoes, and simmer for another 25-30 minutes, until both the chicken and potatoes are cooked through.
  5. Finally, pour in the coconut milk. Give it a quick stir, and let the curry simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Taste the curry, adding in more salt at this stage if necessary.
  6. The curry is best served hot. It’s great served with steamed white rice along with other Asian sides, or had with Malaysian breads like roti canai or roti jala.

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