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Devil’s Curry

Devil's Curry
Devil's Curry pictures (1 of 5)

For the month of February, I am working with Malaysia Kitchen NYC for a special feature of Malaysian recipes on Rasa Malaysia. Earlier this month, I have shared my nasi ulam, or Malaysia mixed herb rice recipe with you. I have received a few emails from the readers that they have successful attempted the nasi ulam recipe at home with great success. I am very pleased that many of my readers get a taste of Malaysian cuisine through the Malaysian recipes I share on this website. From preparing and cooking Malaysian dishes, you are exposed to the spices used in Malaysian cooking. Once you have sampled the delicious Malaysian food, you might consider dining out at a Malaysian restaurant near you, and eventually plan a trip to visit Malaysia. Such are the goals of the Malaysia Kitchen program—to evangelize and promote Malaysia through its colorful cuisines and its many quality products (food and non-food) to the world.

Devil's Curry

Today, I am sharing another classic Malaysian recipe with you, a curry dish named Devil’s Curry, popular in the state of Malacca, Malaysia. In the 15th century, Malacca was the most important trading port in Southeast Asia and the Sultanate of Malacca was a powerful empire. In 1511, the Portuguese conquered Malacca and started the colonization era of Malaysia. However, many Portuguese settled down and married local women and formed the Cristang/Eurasian community in Malaccca, and Devil’s Curry or Curry Devil is a special occasion dish for them.

Devil’s Curry is a fiery red curry made with a spice paste of red chilies, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and turmeric. Unlike other Malaysian curries, Devil’s Curry is flavored with vinegar for the sharp taste. The end result is a curry dish that is spice-laden, complex in flavor, tantalizing to the taste buds—the reasons why it’s a must-have during festivities such as Christmas for the Eurasian Kristang people in Malaysia.

Before I developed this Devil’s Curry recipe, I made sure I checked with my good friend Chef Robert Danhi, whose sister-in-law is a Portuguese Eurasian born and raised in Malacca. Robert’s/his sister-in-law’s recipe is a very reliable reference, which I adapted to the recipe here.

Devil's Curry

All the ingredients are accessible outside of Malaysia. For the spices such as mustard seeds, galangal and turmeric, you can find them at Asian stores. The recipe serves four people so it’s perfect for the whole family. For smaller family, you can have this dish for the day, both lunch and dinner, as the flavor develops and becomes richer. Try this and enjoy Malaysian food on your dining table!

About Malaysia Kitchen for the World

Malaysia Kitchen for the World is a global initiative of the Malaysian government that aims to educate and inform consumers about Malaysian cuisine and Malaysian restaurants throughout the world. The New York campaign seeks to boost interest among American food lovers to try Malaysian cuisine and visit Malaysian restaurants in the New York metropolitan area as well as in other locations in the United States. The program also seeks to facilitate local chefs and restaurateurs to introduce Malaysian cuisine at their establishments.


The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) is Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency. Established in March 1993 as a statutory agency under the Ministry of International Trade Industry (MITI), MATRADE is responsible for assisting Malaysian companies to succeed in the international market by developing and promoting Malaysia’s exports to the world. MATRADE is the lead agency for the Malaysia Kitchen campaign.

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30 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. TDC

    In our family Devil Chicken (debal) is served on New Year’s day and uses the Christmas ham bone to give the curry flavour. The important ingredient is the vinegar, which in our family comes from the vegetable pickle (cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower) which is added at the end.

    It should be really spicy; the clue is in the name!

  2. My husband absolutely loves devil’s curry. When we first got married, I asked him what he would like me to cook. With much persuasion, he asked me for this because he thought it would be really hard to make. It’s been about 3 years now and we can still remember how good it tasted, homemade. Even with limited kitchen utensils and space then! I think it’s time to make it again. :-)

  3. I cannot express my gratitude for showing me this recipe. I’ve been living in KL for almost 4 years, before moving back to The Netherlands last month. We really became a fan of traditional, special, typical local dishes. We had Devil’s Curry many, many times. We used to live very nearby Simply Mell’s, a Portuguese-Malacca restaurant in The Sphere, Bangsar South. She has her own version of the Devil’s Curry, which was really delicious.

    As we lived so close, we went there often and almost always ordered this dish. Now that we are back in Holland, it came up as one of the dishes we really miss. Happy to have found the recipe, I am going to try to replicate it (though I am kinda shocked by the amount of ingredients :))….

    I will definitely keep you posted :).

    Ilya from Wonderful Malaysia

  4. Ulam

    What I really like on this blog is not just about the food. It’s how the photos are taken :) It makes the food super yummy!

  5. ramkiran

    I cooked this curry today, it is very very yummy, Photos are and presentation are awesome ,they made me to cook this, when i saw the site for the first time. Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Love devil’s pork. The element of vinegar and spice paste mix remind slightly of the Goan/portuguese vindaloo. Gonna give this one a try. With a total lack of local malay cuisine (and hardly any malays) there is no choice by taking personal action in the kitchen.

  7. From personal experience. I made this dish and it turned out great. As I make lots of thai classics, I found it sufficient to use packaged dry chilies similar to the ones used in Kung Pao chicken or Thai cashew chicken. Always make sure to deseed the chilies.

    A rool to remember is that smaller chilies are more fiery than larger ones. Rawit or bird’s eye chilies and habanero peppers is recommended to stay away from.The package i usually buy just say “dried thai chilies”.

    Hope this helps.

  8. Vivenne

    My mom always insisted on allowing the curry to sit at least a day to allow the flavors to soak in. I know each family has slightly different variations for the curry, the one I grew up eating was slightly drier than what was pictured here. Nonetheless I am looking forward to making this. Ty for posting it.

  9. BC Karambaya

    HI…i am an Indian from India working in Melaka for over 7 yrs now. I have tasted this DevilCurry twice. Once cooked by the mother of our Eurasian neighbour and second time in a restoran. The Mum’s preparation was far better.
    I would like to point out that since the Portuguese had colonized, both, Melaka and Goa( in India), there is a Goan dish called Vindaloo, which is very simliar in preparation and taste as Devil Curry.

  10. Noob

    Hi bee
    Thank you for all the effort u put into putting out Ur recipes out there… I’m just starting out with cooking and chanced upon yr website. I’m so glad I did. tried some of Ur recipes and have achieved a decent amount of success. I’m pretty bad in the kitchen..
    This devil curry recipe looks amazing and can’t wait to try it out.
    Thank you once again.

  11. Berry

    You mentioned tamarind at the cook’s note,I don’t see the I need to use tamarind juice?

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