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Malay-Style Chicken Curry


I grew up in Malaysia, where I enjoyed cooking and eating local dishes every day.

Malay-style chicken curry is one of my favorite dishes to cook at home for my family.

Malay-style chicken curry is one of my favorite dishes to cook at home for my family.

Malay-Style Chicken Curry

Last night, I cooked one of my favorite Malay dishes, chicken curry. If you look online, you can find many different recipes for this dish, and the ingredients may vary quite a bit. I think that's the beauty of cooking. There are no limits, and you can always learn about ingredients you've never encountered before.

On the other hand, there's something very comforting about cooking dishes that are familiar. I learned to make Malay chicken curry from my mother.

The main ingredients you need are coconut milk, curry powder, curry leaves, chicken, and assorted spices.

The secret ingredient of making this Malay-style recipe is the kerisik. Kerisik is freshly grated coconut that is toasted on a pan until golden brown and then pounded to make a thick, oily paste. I was lucky to have extra shredded coconut in the fridge. For an authentic tasted, I used a mortar and pestle to make the paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can use a blender; however, I must warn that the result is not quite the same.

Once the chicken curry is cooked, you can serve with steamed white rice, flatbread, roti, and much more. If you have some leftover curry, save it in a container and store in the fridge. I love leftover curry as the sauce will thicken over time. If I'm hungry for lunch all I have to do is take it out and heat it up on a stove for a few minutes. Then, dip the sauce with some bread rolls. Yummy!


  • Whole chicken (or chicken breast). There are no rules regarding what type of chicken (organic or non-organic), or how many pieces of chicken.
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 5 to 6 curry leaves
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons curry powder of your choice (mix it with some water to make a paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger root, freshly grated
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into cubes
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • 2 to 3 pieces green cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup shredded coconut for making kerisik (optional)

Mom's Trick: For the best curry, coat the chicken with turmeric powder and just a little bit of salt. Fry coated chicken for about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and let sit before following the directions, below.


  1. To make the kerisik: Toast the shredded coconut on a pan without oil over medium heat. Toast the coconut until it turns golden brown. Grind the toasted coconut using mortar and pestle to make a thick, oily paste. You can save the extra kerisik in the fridge.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Saute the curry leaves with shallots, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, cardamon, star anise, and cloves. Mix well.
  4. Add the curry paste and a tablespoon of kerisik to the pan. Continue stirring for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and coconut milk. Cover the pan. Let it simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes. At this point, you can add some water if you want to have more sauce.
  6. Add the tamarind juice, tomatoes, and salt. Don't forget to taste.
  7. Turn the heat off.
  8. Place the chicken curry in a serving bowl.
  9. Serve curry immediately with steamed basmati rice, flatbread, or roti.

© 2018 Liza


Liza (author) from USA on October 02, 2018:

Hey Peggy, thanks for your lovely comment. The toasted coconut made the curry tastes nutty and creamy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 01, 2018:

I enjoy eating curries. This sounds so interesting with the toasted and mashed coconut in it. Thanks for your recipe.

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