Captain’s Curry

Ayam Kapitan

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

My Asian Kitchen

My Asian Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2018

  • About

Malaysia has a whirling variety of influences on its cooking – Chinese, Indian, Thai, Portuguese and Indonesian just for starters. The Chinese-influenced recipes are known as Nonya cuisine and this is one such hallmark dish. The homemade curry paste doesn’t take long to make, but you could save time by using red curry paste. Serve up some warm roti alongside to dip into the coconut-spiced sauce.

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 4 chicken legs and 4 thighs on the bone, with skin
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400 ml 14 fl oz) coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp toasted coconut flakes
  • 100 g ( oz) tamarind purée
  • 2 tsp five-spice powder
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • juice 2 limes
  • 6 lime leaves

Spice Paste

  • 4 lemongrass stems
  • 75 g ( oz) small shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 thumb-sized red chilli, seeded
  • 6 long dried red chillies, seeded
  • 20 g (¾ oz) galangal, sliced
  • 20 g (¾ oz) ginger, sliced
  • 3 macadamia nuts
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce or
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste (belacan or kapi)
  • steamed rice, roti, chopped coriander (cilantro) and toasted coconut flakes (optional), to serve


To make the spice paste, finely chop the inner part of the lemongrass and add to the blender with all the other spice paste ingredients and 50 ml (2 fl oz) water. Blend to a very fine paste.

Season the chicken well. Heat a large saucepan and add the vegetable oil. Sear the chicken pieces until browned all over, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan, pour off excess oil and add the spice paste. Cook over medium heat for 5–6 minutes until cooked through.

Return the chicken pieces to the pan and stir in the coconut milk, toasted coconut flakes, tamarind and dried spices.

Simmer over a low heat with the lid placed partially over the pan for 1 hour–1 hour 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender and nearly falling off the bone. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the lime juice and the lime leaves.

Serve the curry with steamed rice, roti, chopped coriander and, optionally, the toasted coconut.