Craving spice: Malaysian chicken curry

Now that I can finally talk about the fact that I’m up the duff, I can tell you about my craving for spicy foods. For the first month or so of my pregnancy, I could not get enough chilli and heat. It was the inspiration for my burritos, the drive behind a heinous number of Indian and Thai takeaways, and the (no doubt frustrating) impetus for me throwing chilli into absolutely everything I cooked. It was also the motivation for me cooking up my favourite Malaysian curry.

Sven and I went to Malaysia for our honeymoon and although we spent the vast majority of our three weeks chilling by the pool and flopping about in our amazing suite, I did manage to get to a Malaysian cooking class where I learnt how to cook this amazing curry. In my opinion it is absolutely perfect. Spicy (but too spicy), creamy and vibrant, but packing a beautiful punch of flavour. For some reason I served it on coconut and coriander rice, which looks a bit murky in the photos. However, it’s perfect on coconut rice, or just on plain steamed. You can substitute the chicken for fish if you like (just cook it for around 15 minutes).

Malaysian chicken curry

  • 400-500g boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 200g mange tout
  • Handful of coriander leaves, roughly torn

Curry paste

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 lemon grass stalks,  outer leaves removed and thinly sliced
  • 5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2–3 tbsp groundnut oil

First of all make your curry paste. If your food processor has one, use the mini attachment. Roughly chop your shallots and add to the bowl…

…along with your garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chillies and turmeric. Start blending and trickle in a little groundnut oil to loosen.

Blend for some minutes, adding a little bit of oil at a time (and scraping the sides from time to time), until you end up with something that looks as vibrant and appealing as this:

Next, start on the curry itself. Heat a little oil in a heavy-bottomed dish (I use my Le Creuset), chuck in your curry paste and stir for a few minutes. It will smell amazingly fragrant. Add your onions and cook until soft (5 minutes or so).

Season the chicken pieces with a little salt and pepper and then add them to the onions, stirring well to coat them in the paste and onion mixture.

Add your cinnamon stick, star anise and lime leaves, along with the coconut milk, chicken stock, soft brown sugar, light soy sauce and fish sauce and bring to the boil gently.

Reduce the heat to the lowest it will go and simmer for 30 minutes or so (until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened and reduced a bit).

Once you’re satisfied the chicken is cooked, skim the surface for any excess oil and add the mange tout. Check the seasoning and cook (now with the lid on) for another 5 minutes.

Lastly throw in the coriander and serve. The perfect elixir for your pregnancy induced spice craving, especially when accompanied with a nonalcoholic beer.



Filed under Chicken, Chillies, Coconut, Curry, Main courses, Recipes, Spices

10 responses to “Craving spice: Malaysian chicken curry

  1. I do like a nice Malaysian chicken curry. Did you ever have the lacey roti jala served with it?

  2. Damn that’s a fine looking beast of a curry. I love the use of sugar and star anise in it, must give it some wonderfully spicy faintly liquorish undertones. This is going to be added to the recipe bookmarks for sure.

    • Thanks. The sweet flavours play off beautifully with the heat and spice of the curry paste, the creaminess of the coconut and the intense saltiness of the fish sauce. So good.

  3. Very well shot photos and perfect instructions! What do you think of this chicken curry made of boneless chicken thighs instead as shown at
    ? We would love to hear your comments.

  4. Congratulations! I did a cooking class on my honeymoon as well (Sri Lankan) nice to have a foodie memory of it I think. Hopefully your baby will grow up loving spicy food and Malaysian cuisine!

  5. I tried your curry and absolutely loved it. I’m not quite sure what my excuse is, (it certainly isn’t pregnancy) but I love chilli. I add it to everything, even those ultimate lazy nights when beans on toast is the answer, I always ‘pimp’ up my beans on toast with chilli and parmesan cheese!

  6. Pingback: A spicy breakfast treat: Breakfast burrito « Feed & Gastro

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