Kari Ayam

Chicken Curry

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My Rendang isn't Crispy

My Rendang isn't Crispy

By Zaleha Kadir Olpin

Published 2019

  • About

My Malaysian chicken curry is a spicy yet creamy dish that goes well with rice or bread. In Malaysia, the spice mix can be readily purchased from the wet market, although my parents used to make their own. They would wash the raw spices, dry them under the sun, toast them, then bring them to the mill to have them ground into powder. Having lived abroad for the past 18 years, often in places where I could not purchase Malaysian curry powder, I started mixing my own, although not to the same extent as my parents. I simply mix spice powders together. It took me a few attempts to get the mix right, but I finally got the thumbs up from my mum. Try it!


  • 1 small chicken, about 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz)
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk curry leaves, stem discarded
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 250 ml (8 fl oz / 1 cup) coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) double cream (optional)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • A handful of chopped coriander leaves

Tempering Spices

  • 3 cloves
  • 5-cm (2-inch) length cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods

Spice Paste

  • 3 shallots, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 7.5-cm (3-inch) knob ginger, peeled
  • 2 candlenuts

Spice Powders

  • 2 Tbsp chilli powder
  • 3 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz / ½ cup) water


  • Wash the chicken and pat dry. Cut into small pieces. Set aside.
  • Pound the ingredients for the spice paste coarsely using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  • Combine the spice powders in a bowl and add the water gradually, mixing it into a paste. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tempering spices and curry leaves. Cover with a lid and let the spices splutter.
  • Add the spice paste and fry until fragrant and slightly dry.
  • Add the spice powder paste and stir quickly, making sure the mixture does not burn. Turn the heat to low and fry the spices for another 10 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture dries up.
  • Add the chicken and potatoes and stir gently, making sure the chicken and potatoes are well-coated with the spices. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the salt and turn the heat to low. Let it simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. If it is too spicy for your liking, stir in the double cream. Add the tomatoes and coriander leaves. Simmer for another 3 minutes before removing from the heat.
  • Serve hot with rice or bread.

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