Kari Ayam: Malaysian Chicken Curry Recipe

Posted February 20, 2018 by Stephanie

We’re going through a cold snap and aside for venturing out for a couple of Lunar New Year celebrations, Mike and I have been snuggled up at home, trying to stay warm. Yeah, you know what that means.

Kari Ayam: Malaysian Chicken Curry Recipe

Anyway, I made this because lately we’ve been hanging with my family and anytime I hang with my family I think of chicken curry because my dad doesn’t eat beef and what is curry if there’s no beef in it?

Kari Ayam: Malaysian Chicken Curry Recipe

Oh wait, curry comes from India and they don’t eat beef there. I guess that’s why we eat chicken curry.

Kari Ayam: Malaysian Chicken Curry Recipe

I’m writing this with a fried chicken drumstick in one hand while trying to type with my other, please excuse any mistakes.

Kari Ayam: Malaysian Chicken Curry Recipe

Chicken Curry, Malaysian style. Itadakimasu!

PS – I started this post and left it open while I went to take a shower and Mike hijacked it. It was too funny not to post as is >_<

Kari Ayam: Malaysian Chicken Curry Recipe

Malaysian Chicken Curry Recipe
serves 4

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
  • 1-2 Thai chilis, sliced
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese crushed chili or crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 3-4 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 lime leaves
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Crush lemongrass, garlic, shallots, ginger, and Thai chilis in a mortar and pestle until it resembles a paste. Alternatively, you can blitz this in your food processor. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, crushed chili flakes, and 2 tablespoons oil.

Coat chicken throughly with the curry paste and let marinate for 30 minutes.

In a large dutch oven, heat up remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the chicken, skin side down, until golden. Flip the chicken skin side up and add the potatoes. Stir in coconut milk, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, star anise, and lime leaves.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour, or until chicken is soft and tender. Season with fish sauce and brown sugar and enjoy!

Pro tip: serve this with roti canai.


  1. Disa Rastogi says:

    This looks really great..going to give it a try.

  2. Andrew says:

    Replace Itadakimasu with SEDAP GILER.
    That’s what you’ll probaby hear in all the mamaks that dot Malaysia ;)

  3. I cannot wait to try this. Something warming and delicious that’s not soup – thank god!

  4. Eileen says:

    Looks delish! I’m loving all the malaysian recipes on your blog lately! Maybe malaysian fried chicken next?

    1. Ellie says:

      Yes please!

  5. Sophie says:

    Amazing! I can’t wait to try this! I’m vegetarian, how would you recommend cooking with aubergine?

  6. Jill says:

    Sounds delicious, but I think the instructions are missing when to add the potatoes.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jill,
      thanks for that! they get added when all the liquid is added. i updated the recipe :)

    2. Nicky says:

      Just before you add the coconut oil, it sYs to add the potato

  7. Jen says:

    Hi! What are the shallots for?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jen,
      thanks for catching that! they go in right at the beginning with the lemongrass to get crushed up for the chili paste mixture.

  8. C says:

    We usually cook the curry paste/spices until the oil splits off in order to maximise the aroma and flavour, just so you know. Then you can add in the santan and etc. I think a good English speaking cooking show that explained it was John Torode’s Malaysian Adventure.

  9. Miriam says:

    Are the instructions missing when to add the shallots?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi miriam,
      the shallots go in the mixture (lemongrass, garlic, shallots, ginger, and Thai chilis) that is pounded with the motar and pestle at the beginning.

  10. Lynda says:

    Cannot wait to try this! Winter is coming and this recipe conjoured up memories of walking through the Penang markets many moons ago. Will report back, I’m a Malaysian food tragic and salivating as I type.

  11. Lynda says:

    Stephanie I said I’d report back. You’re to be congratulated for making an authentic curry easy! I have books full of wonderful recipes that require one to jump on a plane to find many of the ingredients.

    Your recipe is quick with easily accessible ingredients and is delicious. The lime is the hero for me. I had a little cauliflower I needed to use so threw that in at the very end and blanched some snow peas I also had to use (it’s Sunday, clean out the fridge night), and mopped it up with a store bought roti. I wish I had an authentic paratha, you can’t beat those.. Thank you, this recipe will make frequent appearances at my table.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi lynda,
      thanks so much for taking the time to write and for making this!! so exciting that you loved it :)

  12. Lynda says:

    Ok so I’m about to make this delicious curry for the second time in a week and only have one lemongrass stalk. It seems the zest of one lemon with some rocket or baby spinach works as a substitute for lemongrass so I’ll be using spinach as I have that. Just thought I’d let people know in case they’re caught out like me. It’s short work for such an authentic result and well worth trying.

  13. Neha says:

    Hi! This looks great! Do you know what kind of curry powder can be used?

    1. Stephanie says:

      i neha, i just used a chinese curry powder, but any will do!

  14. Marta says:

    Delicious! Made it tonight for dinner with friends and the pan was practically licked clean! Thx for sharing :)

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay! so glad you guys had a good time :)

  15. Nicola says:

    I bought a Malaysian curry from a country fayre but find it quite bitter ? What would you recommend for me to add please ? Thanks for any advice !

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi nicola,
      i’m not sure if you are looking for ingredient suggestions (protein, vegetables) or suggestions on what to add to the paste (coconut milk, etc).

  16. Madhuka says:

    It was delicious. This would definitely be a frequent dish at my home. Thank you.

  17. Amanda says:

    I threw in some tomato’s at the same time as the potato. Didn’t marinate the chicken just fried the chicken spice paste together till it split. Great recipe had it with roti. Yum!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi amanda,
      ooh tomatoes in there sound amazing! thanks for letting me know how it went :)

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