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Chicken Curry Recipe

Chicken Curry
Chicken Curry pictures (4 of 6)

Chicken curry has always been my favorite, but I hardly make chicken curry from scratch. But this past weekend, I felt motivated and wanted to make chicken curry properly, without cheating with instant curry paste. And so I did.

There are many different varieties of chicken curry available in Malaysia: Indian, Muslim-Indian (Mamak), Chinese, Malay, and Nyonya. There are many chicken curry recipes but each takes after the basics of chicken curry, adapts, and enhances it accordingly. While different version renders its distinct taste (and presentation), the underlying flavors of chicken curry are pretty much the same–spicy, rich, aromatic, highly addictive, potentially aphrodisiac, and remarkably scrumptious…

Chicken Curry Recipe

Chicken curry can also be “wet” or “dry.” The wet version is watery (mostly from coconut milk and water) and the dry version has a thicker curry gravy and tastes more intense. The recipe I am sharing today is Curry Chicken Kapitan–a “dryer” curry and a Nyonya adaptation of Indian chicken curry. (Kapitan is the name given to appointed Chinese chiefs during the Portuguese and Dutch colonization in Malaysia.)

Do try out my chicken curry recipe below.

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68 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. GiGi

    Hi, i m a Malaysian (Penangite!) currently living in Sacramento area, CA..Wish to know where can i get the Candlenuts (Buah Keras)? Wihtout this ingredient, will the Curry Chicken Kapitan aroma remains? Thanks!

  2. PenangTuaPui

    aiks…. kapitan chicken…. can’t hold myself from ordering everytime it is listed in any of the restaurant menu… I love this….

    and can’t deny that.. as Malaysian, food belongs to which races no longer a matter to us, food become something that hold everyone together….

    and again.. I am sorry as i can’t make use of your recipe yet… as none of us can cook..:P

  3. Anonymous

    I have been searching high and low for a good curry chicken recipe, there are so many on the internet. But yours look the best. Your photos are amazing!

    • Jennifer

      Bee, where online can I find fresh ingredients to be delivered like ” Templeofthai”? There site has been closed for maintenance for months! I live in a rural part of Tx now after living in Singapore for a year. We fell in love with all the fresh chillis and kafir lime leaves spices and so on… I’m unable to cook our favorites. Please help!!!

      • Jennifer, where in Texas do you live? I used to live in DaLLas, Tx for almost thirty years and never had any problem finding spices and herbs or any exotic ingredients for cooking ethnic food. I know Dallas and Houston have H-Mart and some cities in Texas have Hong Kong super market, and all sorts of Asian and Indian super markets. H-Mart is on NW side of George Bush Hwy and Old Denton Rd. in Carrollton, Dallas’ suburb. About a mile or so away from H-mart there are several Indian and Asian groceries stores. I have a kafir lime bush that I purchased from H-mart here in Atlanta, GA. You can plant most of the herbs and rhizomes (ginger, galangal, and turmeric, and lemon grass) in your garden or pots. I grow all of these in my garden and freeze them for future use. I freeze everything. Good luck to you.

  4. Anonymous

    Finally! Chicken curry recipe from scratch. Those chicken curry looks good. Not too watery and not too thick either. I am so going to try this.

  5. Anonymous

    that looks JUST like the kind we make at home! the recipe is a bit different but still, that’s the first familiar looking chicken curry ive seen yet. no 2 chicken curries are alike!

  6. Salt N Turmeric

    That looks amazing. Im gonna try making this using your chicken curry kapitan recipe. I have all the ingredients but galangal so i should be able to make this.

    Great food for breaking of fast!

  7. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Until I visited Malaysia, I’d never had Nyonya cooking. I fell in love with it, of course, and brought back several wonderful cookbooks. I’ve made many different Malaysian curries, but never this one. So now I’ve got a wonderful recipe to add to my repertoire!

  8. Anonymous


    You might want to try use macadamia nuts in lieu of candlenuts. Not sure if it will affect the aroma of this curry but it works well with same other I tried.


  9. Rosa's Yummy Yums

    It looks absolutely gorgeous! Very flavorful and spicy! A wonderful dish which I adore…



  10. MyF

    Ooh chicken curry.. my favourite curry of all! Try add some fresh stalk of lemongrass, trust me, it’s worth the taste! and aroma, I tell you! :-)
    But in your dish, u used lime leave so that makes it wonderful, sorta like rendang too..:-)

  11. The Expedited Writer

    this is one of my favorite curries, my late grandmother used to make this and rest assure, the whole pot will be gone by dinner (there were 8 of us) :)

  12. Cynthia

    I live for a good chicken curry and that is actually the subject of my upcoming column this week.

    Definitely have to try yours.

  13. Hazza

    I love this dish! However, my preference would be to cook with bones in, although this is not always the western way

  14. ChichaJo

    This sounds wonderful! I love all kinds of curries…aromatic and flavor-intense dishes are something I crave! This is definitelygetting bookmarked!

    Some questions: Candlenuts are not readily avaialble here…will rthe curry be really sad without it? Ot is there a substitute?

    Also, I just got some belacan (yay!)…how do you store yours?

  15. Rasa Malaysia

    Chichajo – you can use macadamia nuts, they work the same. For the storing of belacan, just store it in the fridge in an air-tight container (so it doesn’t stink up your fridge.

  16. cooknengr

    Hey, just to let you know this weekend, my reader is bringing Mani Chai all the way from Boston..woohoo. :)

    Live Crawdad supplier along 22 is close but a new one (affiliated with he boiling Crab ) opened up at 13908 Brookhurst st#b, Garden grove.

  17. pingmouse

    hi bee yin, a fan of your frm klang. I was in Penang over the weekend, went the whole of island searching for the A1 curry chicken paste but couldnt find it. And then I just happen to visit the TTDI market looking for saffron, and there it is. The best curry chicken paste! :) have yet to try it….

  18. master

    rasa malaysia,

    i’m a big fan of yours here in england. i’m goin to make these recipe today for dinner. but i can’t find fresh turmeric. can i used the conventional grounded and bottled one? if yes, how much tbsp or tsp for these recipe? thank you so much.

  19. Rasa Malaysia

    Master – yes, you can use turmeric powder. As to how much, I would say you can start with 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon first and add more if you wish. It’s mostly for the color and also the turmeric aroma. Taste the flavor, if it’s not enough, add more. :)

  20. Mrs Ergül

    Hi there! When do I add in the lemongrass and lime leaves?

    Sorry if this sounds stupid, but what are the exact item in the ingredient list that goes into the spice blend?


  21. Carolyn

    Yes, please say exactly which ingredients are included in the spice blend. Thanks.

    Also your photos of the dish are lovely. But I’m wondering . . . is that a piece of cinnamon sticking up? (What is that brown stick-like thing in the photos?)

  22. M

    Rasa Malaysia, you’re such a genious. I love your photos and it makes me hungry everytime I browse your blog.

    I love Chicken Curry and I would love to try to make it from scratch from this recipe… the photo of the chicken curry look very very good!!

  23. Dionne Beins

    yes you can use macadamia instead of buah keras. what buah keras does is just makes the texture thicker…same effect with macadamia. good luck!

  24. chilli-hot

    I am an Australian with a Nyonya wife from Penang living in Shanghai:) My wife speaks Mandarin very well but cannot write but can read a little (Convent Light School). My Ayi cooks Shanghainese which is horrible and greasy and cold. I found Curry Kapitan and using Google Translate, I came up with this translation :) Can someone advise if this is anywhere near correct? I cannot find Chinese translation for Candlenuts. I hope the Chinese characters post correctly.


    Mark Bourne
    Shanghai China.

    食谱: 咖喱鸡甲必 Chicken Curry Kapitan.

    成分: Ingredients:

    [1.5 lb boneless chicken thigh and/or breast (cut into small cubes/pieces)]

    [2 lemon grass (cut into 4-inch lengths, use only the white part, pounded)]
    [1 1/2 inch galangal (southern ginger)]

    [1/2 lb red chili (seeded and sliced)]
    [5 shallots (sliced)]

    [1 inch ginger]

    6 candlenuts (浸泡在温水)
    [6 candlenuts {buah keras or kukui nut} (soaked in warm water) – macadamia nut can be used as a substitute but is less bitter]

    [1/2 inch fresh turmeric]

    1 / 4茶匙虾酱(发酵虾酱)
    1/4 teaspoon belacan (fermented shrimp paste)

    [1 cup coconut milk]

    [6-8 pieces kaffir lime leaves]
    [1 tablespoon lime juice]
    Salt to taste


    1>> 混合所有的香料非常精细粘贴。
    [Blend all spices to a very fine paste.]
    2>> 热了一些烹调油在炒锅和炒粘贴到芳香或薄薄的一层油上升到顶端。。
    [Heat up some cooking oil in a wok and stir-fry paste until aromatic or a thin layer of oil rises to the top.]
    3>> 添加买鸡,并继续搅拌,直到它几乎煮熟。
    [Add chicken and continue stirring until it's almost cooked.]
    4>> 加入椰奶和继续炖煮另一15-20分钟,小火。
    [Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, over low heat.]
    5>> 添加盐味和服务热
    [Add salt to taste and serve hot.]

    • mei

      Hi Mark,

      The google’s translation really tickled my funny bone….:-D

      1.5 lb boneless chicken thigh and/or breast (cut into small cubes/pieces)]
      —> 1.5磅去骨鸡大腿和/或乳腺癌(切成小方块/件)

      乳腺癌 = breast cancer!!!! imagine the reaction you get from the shop assistant….

      what you need is ..鸡胸肉

      Also, lemon grass is known as 香茅 in chinese, not 柠檬草..

      shallots = 红葱头/小红洋葱
      candlenuts = 石栗
      kaffir lime leaves = 青柠叶/泰国柠檬叶
      (the 石灰 in google’s translation means cement ^.^|| you dont really need cement in your cooking :-D)
      lime juice = 酸橙汁 (橙 = orange; 酸橙 = lime)

      Hope this helps :)

  25. missus

    i just finished cooking this delicious curry. but u really should’ve put in the recipe that lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves need to be seperated.. cos i blended the lemon grass all together with the spice paste. lucky i did put lime leaves seperate .. frm experience. it taste delicious anyway, just a bit rough in textures due the lemon grass being blended in it. i also added some water cos i like more watery curry. thanks for the recipe.. this is my first attempt making curry and its actually eatable ahaha…

  26. Zeenath A. Rahim

    Greetings from Dhaka Bangladesh,

    I just love trawling through food sites & yours is just incredible.Superb Photography adds to the success of all your recipes because we can judge what the finished product should look like.
    I enjoy your writing style & since I am very much home bound, the different blogs transport me to worlds that are so different from ours, bringing the exotic and the unusual right to my doorstep. My deep desire to travel & see the world is often satisfied just going through wonderful blogs like yours. Congratulations. Zeenath

  27. Zeenath A. Rahim

    Oh I forgot to ask. In the recipe for Chicken Curry Kapitan, do you actually use 1/2 lb of red chilies? Are these fresh or dried red chilies. !/2 lb in my opinion will be TOO HOT even though we eat very hot food. Is this a typing mistake ? Also we do not get candle nuts or macadamia nuts here? Can we substitute cashew nuts or almonds instead? Thanks

  28. lemon grass if very expensive in my neck of the woods. I bought some lemon grass powder but I don’t know how much of this to use. Help! Thanks.

    • I’ve not used lemon grass powder this chicken curry recipe. Based on the rest of my quantified ingredients for this chicken curry recipe, I suggest start with a spoonfool and continue to add to taste. You can start once the broth starts boiling.

  29. emmawy

    hi, i live in australia and despite my asian background (singaporean!) i’m ashamed to say i don’t know what galangal is. is there a substitute for it that i can use if i can’t find it in asian groceries?


    • Hmmm, I am not sure how to tell you but it looks like ginger, but has a very different and exotic taste. If you go to Thai food store, I guarantee you will find it.

  30. loveeating

    when do you use the lemone grass and the lime leaves? when do you add them? do you add them to the chicken with the coconut milk to simmer?
    I need help, about to make this in just two days.
    Thank you!

  31. alicia

    i would like to know about the cinnamon stick also? was that added to the stew or was it for photographic purposes only? thanks

  32. Lawmey

    Fantastic recipe. I had a go last night and my boyfriend absolutely loves it. Its my first time making Kapitan and loving it.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  33. Jonathan

    “Shallots” can mean different things in different countries, and different cities too (eg Melbourne and Sydney) for that matter.

    In the case of this kapitan recipe, does “shallots” mean those little purple “eschalots” or the long thin spring onion type of shallot?

    Also, there is something bitter going on in my paste . . . could this be the lemongrass I mistakenly blended or perhaps the combination of red onion and spring onions I used in lieu of shallots?

  34. Hi there, this curry recipe looks lovely and very different from my one which is of Indian origin – from my ma in law in fact. Thought you might like to take a look at mine which I have called ‘Amma’s Chicken curry’ and can be found on my blog. Take care Torie

  35. jeanette

    Today I made this curry according to your recipe. altho I am not a fan of santan,it was delicious. The spices was just right,blended well with the santan.

  36. Maria Uriam


    can you send me a recipe for a easy curry chicken with potato, a sweet and sour chicken..i don’t know how to cook and i tried to look for a easy recipe for those cooked…

    thank you

  37. Irene Ong

    Hi Bee,

    Can you recommend a curry recipe which I can introduce to my three year old? I tried one on the weekend and despite deseeding all the chillies it was still too spicy for her. Btw I’ve got your cookbook and was able to make delicious simple Chinese meals which I didn’t managed to learn from my late mother…so thanks very much! Your blog is one that I visit often for meal ideas :-)

    Cheers, Irene

  38. Sam

    Wouldn’t it be better to measure the ginger and galangal by weight? They vary in thickness, so measuring by length isn’t very precise.

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