Spicy Portuguese Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Fried Ginger

Curry Devil


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    4 to 6

    servings as part of a multi-dish meal

Appears in

Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore

Southeast Asian Flavors

By Robert Danhi

Published 2008

  • About

This Eurasian stew of deep red gravy is one of the few Portuguese-Asian fusion dishes. Fiery hot, it’s best served with lots of rice. Angela Leong, my Portuguese sister-in-law, taught it to me years ago in Malaysia. A sprinkling of deep-fried shallot slices and ginger matchsticks add layers of aroma and eye appeal: an extra extravagance for the ambitious cook.


  • 50 (1 cup / 1 oz. / 28 g.) Dried red chilies, remove stems and seeds
  • ¾ cup Vegetable oil (divided use)
  • 10 medium Shallots, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 5 stalks Lemongrass, trimmed and sliced very thin, about 1/16 inch (.1 cm.)
  • ¼ tsp. Ground turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp. finely grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. Finely grated galangal (luengkuas)
  • 1 Tbsp. Brown mustard seeds or yellow is adaquate
  • 1 medium Whole chicken, (3 to 4 lbs. or 1.4 to 1.8 kg.) cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. (454 grams) Gold waxy potatoes, 2-inch (5 cm.) chunks
  • ½ cup Tamarind pulp
  • 2 Tbsp. Distilled (white) vinegar
  • 2 Long red chilies or other hot red chilies, thinly sliced, about ⅛ inch (0.3 cm.) thick


  1. Prepare spice paste (rempah): Soak dried chilies in ¾ cup of room temperature water for 30 minutes; drain; squeeze out excess moisture. Puree these soaked chilies with ½ cup oil, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, and galangal in a blender to fine spice paste Add water, only if needed, to facilitate blending.
  2. Cook the curry: In a pan over medium heat, combine ¼ cup oil with mustard seeds. Cook until seeds begin to make an audible popping sound, and then add spice paste; fry until the oil begins to separate back out of paste, about 15 minutes. The spice paste will become aromatic and lose its raw aroma.
  3. Stew the meat and potatoes: Add chicken, stir to coat with paste, and cook 10 minutes; add potatoes and cook 5 more minutes, stirring often. Add water and salt. The cooking liquid should barely cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cover. Cook until chicken and potatoes are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  4. Finalize the seasoning: Add the tamarind and vinegar; stir well. Taste; adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar. Serve garnished with sliced chilies.