Malay Curry Chicken

Malay Curry Chicken

4.25 stars

A no-fuss Malay curry chicken recipe that is scrumptious and thick. Great with roti jala, roti prata, roti canai and of course, rice. Using simple but the right ingredients, both beginner and seasoned cooks alike will love this hearty pot of curry chicken.

Preparation 20 mins
Cooking 30 mins


Kari Ayam Mudah

Malay, Malaysian, Singaporean

Nutrition per Serving

762 kcal
73 g
43 g
27 g

Preparing curry chicken from scratch is not a daunting task especially if you are in Malaysia or Singapore. In fact, I make this dish so often for my family. They love its thick luscious curry which is perfect for Roti Jala, the golden net pancakes or roti canai/roti prata. This curry is highly requested at home especially during Ramadan. Whenever I make it, there is surely no roti or rice left by the end of the meal. The plates will always be empty!

Curry Chicken with Roti Jala
Curry Chicken with Roti Jala

Do not be surprised with the easy to get ingredients and simple steps. Using only turmeric powder and salt as marinade, it may seem like a beginner's recipe but you will be amazed. When paired with roti, the thickness of the curry clings onto the seams and folds making every bite a dream come true. Before you jump to the recipe, get the tips here for the perfect outcome.

Without coconut milk

Coconut milk can be substituted with normal milk. Choose milk with at least 3.5% fat content for a creamier taste. For a healthier version of curry chicken with a milder flavour, replace coconut milk with soy milk.

Curry powder

This curry chicken dish uses a Malaysian meat curry powder which is made into a paste. The curry powder consists mostly of chilli powder and turmeric powder. Other spices added to the curry powder are ground coriander, fennel seeds and cumin.

Curry powder with other aromatics used in this recipe
Curry powder with other aromatics used in this recipe

If you are unable to find meat curry powder at where you are located, opt for another with similar ingredients or use any curry paste of your choice.

Substituting curry leaves

Curry leaves are often used for its fragrance in curry and other spicy dishes. Fresh curry leaves are found in local supermarkets or specialty grocers if you are not located in Singapore or Malaysia. I recommend substituting them with bay leaves if you do not have curry leaves. Click here to learn more about curry leaves.

How spicy is the dish?

If you are used to some heat in your meals, this curry is really mild. However, the spiciness of the curry highly depends on the selection of curry powder used. For extra spiciness, add one tablespoon of dried chilli paste (cili boh) to Step 2.

Avoid raw curry powder

Curry powder is one of the key ingredients in this dish. When undercooked, the curry will taste very raw. Thus, it is very important to sauté the curry powder paste until it is fragrant. This step is referred to as ‘pecah minyak’ in Malay which translates to ‘breaking oil’. This is when the oil separates from the paste and floats to the surface as seen in the photo below.

‘Pecah minyak’ or oil separating
‘Pecah minyak’ or oil separating

Can I skip the aromatics?

Sure, but the dish is not going to live up to its full potential. Otherwise, you can give this other standard curry chicken recipe a try. It uses slightly different ingredients but is just as delicious.

The other curry chicken dish
The other curry chicken dish

Which part of the chicken to use?

Cooking curry with chicken breast may be the more popular option. For me, it has to be the thighs or drumsticks as I have used in the recipe. It's best to have some chicken bones with the meat because they do add more flavour to the dish.

However, if that is not your preference, remove the bones before cooking. The chunks of chicken thigh should not be too small or they might disintegrate during cooking as they are more tender compared to chicken breast.

Vegetables in curry

Besides potatoes, carrots and green peas are delicious healthy ingredients to be added into this curry.

Curry cooked in a crock pot or pressure cooker?

It's possible to cook this dish in a slow cooker or a crock pot. Just add all the ingredients into the pot and ensure that they are evenly mixed. Cook for about 6 hours over low heat or 3 hours over high heat.

If using a pressure cooker, heat it over medium heat to sauté the ingredients as shown in Step 2. Once chicken is added, put the lid on and cook over high pressure for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the lid, stir in coconut milk and follow the rest of the steps in the recipe.

Curry over rice or noodles

As mentioned, this is our to-go recipe for Roti Jala in our home. However, it also goes very well with rice or noodles. Instead of making Curry Laksa, why not give this dish a try with some noodles. Besides, it is also a great accompanying dish for Banana Leaf Rice.

Banana Leaf Rice
Banana Leaf Rice


400 g
chicken thigh(s)
2 tbsp
turmeric powder
1⁄4 tsp
1 1⁄2
yellow onion(s)
garlic clove(s)
5 cm
12 tbsp
curry powder
1 1⁄2 cups
1⁄3 cup
cinnamon stick(s)
star anise
green cardamom
curry leaves stalk(s)
100 ml
coconut milk
1⁄2 tbsp
1⁄2 cup

Steps to Prepare

Malay Curry Chicken Step 1

Step 1 of 3

    • 400 g chicken thigh(s)
    • 2 tbsp turmeric powder
    • 1⁄4 tsp salt
    • 1 1⁄2 yellow onion(s)
    • 6 garlic clove(s)
    • 5 cm ginger
    • 12 tbsp curry powder
    • 1 1⁄2 cup water

Marinate chicken with turmeric powder and salt. Set aside. Blend an onion, garlic and ginger to create a fine paste. In another bowl, mix curry powder with some water to create a paste.

Malay Curry Chicken Step 2

Step 2 of 3

Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Sauté the blended paste, curry powder paste, curry leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cardamom until fragrant. The oil should separates from the paste when it’s ready.

Malay Curry Chicken Step 3

Step 3 of 3

    • 4 potatoes
    • 100 ml coconut milk
    • 1 tomato(es)
    • 1⁄2 tbsp salt
    • 1⁄2 cup water

Add in the marinated chicken, cubed potatoes and water into the wok. Then, cook over medium heat for about 15 mins. Add coconut milk and increase heat to its highest. Once curry begins to boil, reduce the heat to its lowest and add tomato wedges to cook until slightly tender. Add salt to taste. Optionally, sprinkle more curry leaves for fragrance and colour before serving.

Published: May 11, 2020

5 Discussions

6 months ago

Anne L

Hi! I cooked this tonight. I had similar issues as Samuel Stephenson. The oil did not break and the paste stuck to the bottom of the wok. It tasted good though. I used a stainless steel wok on low-medium heat over an electric stove. Perhaps I should have cooked on low heat or used a non-stick pot? It turned out to be a drier curry than expected. Would you advise adding more water? I'll definitely try again.

6 months ago


Hi Anne, it seems like we had an error with the recipe. You'll need much more water. It has been rectified. I usually sauté paste over low-medium heat but you can also do it at a lower heat since you mentioned that it began to burn. Non-stick pot could be an option too.

6 months ago

Anne L

Thank you Grace. One of my Aussie friends said it's the best curry she's ever had!

10 months ago


Hi. I am in Australia. Would it be suitable to replace the 12 tpsp of curry powder with one (or more) 185g jar of Ayam Nonya Curry Paste which we can buy here?

9 months ago

Emily Halim

Hi Bruce, sorry for the delay in answering. Ayam Nyonya Curry Paste is easier for you to use - it is ready-made for you. If I'm not mistaken, just saute the paste for a while, add potatoes, about 500gm chicken and let it boil. Add about 200 ml of coconut milk. I hope this helps. Let us know if you need more details. Thanks Bruce. Stay Safe, Em

a year ago

Samuel Stephenson

Hi! I'm very familiar with Sing/Malay curries from working in Singapore and felt like I knew, from the photos and recipes, exactly what this dish would be like. I messed something up. First, I don't have a wok, not sure if that makes a difference. I used a dutch oven to cook the curry and there was some sticking/burning within minutes of introducing the curry paste and blending it into the oil. After getting the oil and curry paste/mixture well blended, the oil didn't break. It cooked for close to 30 minutes and never broke. It would cook down and start to dry out ... it didn't look right to me so i added water and I imagine that would screw up the process. The flavor wasn't too bad, had a decent heat, i imagine some of the dried out curry coating the bottom part of the pan didn't help. Also, what kind of potato do you recommend? I'm in the US so tried Yukon gold and didn't cook quite through despite being cubed fairly small. Looking for any advice you can give me. Thanks! Sam S, Chicago, IL, USA

a year ago

Emily Halim

Hi Samuel, U can also use pot if you don’t have wok. The only thing about wok is - every Asian house will always have one fav fry pan or wok. This black one is my fav 😁 Though some might still recommend using pot, I think Dutch oven is ok but maybe we try using low instead of medium heat. To avoid burning - Mix the curry powder with 1/3 cup of water and frequently stir it to avoid sticking/burning. If the oil can’t break, cook & frequently stir the paste for 10mins until you get thicker consistency. I used the yellow flesh potatoes from india. Yukon can be substituted with any yellow/ red skin potatoes. If you only have Yukon, after step 2, add 1/4 cup of water into the cooked paste and cook your potatoes for about 5-8mins before u add chicken. I think Russet is a bit soft so if you wanna try Russet, don’t put it too early in the curry. I hope this helps. Terima Kasih Samuel :) Emily H

a year ago

Mona Sidd

Hi Nancy, Could the chicken be marinated with another ingredient? Turmeric powder sounds too much. Also is it correct that 12 tbls are required to make paste? It also sound too much

a year ago

Emily Halim

Hi Mona, U can also use the curry powder itself to marinate your chicken. This curry is thick and is nice for dipping. But, if you prefer lighter curry, use 6-8 tbsp or add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water in step 3. Thanks Mona

a year ago

Nancy Lin

Hi, In step 3 , you mention adding water, but there is not an amount listed. Thanks!

a year ago

Emily Halim

Hi Nancy, thanks for letting us know ❤️ You can add 1/4 cup of water or 1/3 cup if u prefer lighter or not too thick curry. Thanks again Nancy, happy cooking 🥘

a year ago


Recipe has been updated. Keep on cooking, ladies! ;)

Give us your opinion! Log in and start posting.