Originally from Malaysia, Liza currently lives in the U.S. with her husband. She loves cooking, baking, photography, and traveling.
My mother cooked this Malay-style curry fried chicken, known locally as ayam goreng berempah, countless times when I was growing up for big family gatherings.
It starts with a great blend of rempah, or spices. I'm lucky enough to get the essential spices at an Asian store near my house. In addition to the dried spices, the recipe calls for fresh lemongrass, curry leaves, and turmeric root. Without the fresh ingredients, the recipe won't taste the same as what my mother cooked.
If you love fried chicken with lots of flavor, then you will definitely love this dish. The aromas that waft through the kitchen as the chicken fries with the spices are wonderful!
In Malaysia, we often eat this dish with steamed white rice. It's also great alongside spicy sambal and sliced cucumber. I've included the recipe a quick and easy sambal, below. It is a combination of Thai red chili, garlic, shallot, tomato, salt, sugar, and lime juice. To make it, I used a mortar and pestle because that's how we do it in Malaysia.
For the chicken and marinade:
- 2 skinless chicken breast, cut into strips or cubes
- 2 stalks lemongrass, roughly cut
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 1 1/2 inch ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
- 1 inch turmeric root (or 2 teaspoons ground turmeric)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (omit if you don't like spicy)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt (or more, to taste)
- 2 strings curry leaves
- 1 egg
- Water for blending
- Oil for frying
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For the sambal:
- 4-5 Thai red chilies
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot
- 1 tomato
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Sugar and salt for the taste
- Steamed white rice
- Sliced cucumber
- Cilantro for garnish
- Marinate the chicken: In a blender, combine the garlic, red onion, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, sugar, salt, and water. Blend it until it forms a paste. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, curry powder, ground cumin, fennel seeds, and ground cilantro.
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken and the paste. Add the spice mixture. Use your hand to incorporate the paste and the spice with the chicken. (By the way, I wear a glove for this step.)
- Add the cornstarch, egg, and curry leaves to the chicken. Use your hand to incorporate until the chicken is well coated.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let the chicken sit in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours (the longer it marinates, the better it gets).
- In the meantime, prepare the sambal. Combine the Thai chilies, tomato, shallot, and garlic in a blender. Blend for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add sugar, salt, and lime juice and mix evenly. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and keep in the fridge.
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Place coated chicken pieces into the pan gently, using tongs, to avoid splashing oil.
- Fry the chicken, flipping each piece every 5 minutes. Cook until the pieces turn golden brown. Continue frying the chicken until it's all done.
- Remove the chicken from the pan.
- Place the chicken in serving bowl or plate. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
- Serve immediately with steamed white rice, sambal, and sliced cucumber.
© 2020 Liza