Devil’s Curry Recipe
Devil’s Curry is a Malaysian dish of chicken curry with vinegar.
It’s a special-occasion dish made popular by the Portuguese Eurasian in Malaysia.
This is an authentic recipe originated in the state of Melaka (Malacca) in the peninsula of Malaysia.
History of Devil’s Curry
In the 15th century, Malacca was the most important trading port in Southeast Asia. The Sultanate of Malacca was a powerful empire.
In 1511, the Portuguese conquered Malacca and started the colonization era of Malaysia.
Many Portuguese settled down and married local women and formed the Cristang/Eurasian community in Malaccca.
Devil’s Curry or Curry Devil is a special occasion dish for them. It’s also called Kari Debal or curry Debal.
Devil’s Curry is a fiery red curry made with a spice paste of the following ingredients:
- Red chilies
All the ingredients above are accessible outside of Malaysia. For the spices such as mustard seeds, galangal and turmeric, you can find them at Asian stores.
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.
It’s a must-have during festivities such as Christmas for the Eurasian Kristang community in Malaysia.
I learned and adapted the recipe from my good friend Chef Robert Danhi, whose sister-in-law is a Portuguese-Eurasian born and raised in Malacca.
Can I Freeze Kari Debal Overnight?
Yes, you can.
For a small family, you can have this curry dish for the whole day, for lunch and dinner. The flavor of the curry develops and becomes richer overnight.
Freeze the leftover in the fridge and reheat before serving the next day.
How Many Calories per Serving?
The recipe serves four people so it’s perfect for the whole family. This recipe is only 336 calories per serving.
What Dishes to Serve with This Recipe?
This curry dish is best served with steamed rice. For a Malaysian meal and easy weeknight dinner, I recommend the following recipes.
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- 20-30 dried red chilies (seeded and soaked in water for 20-30 minutes)
- 8 small shallots (coarsely chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)
- 3 stalks lemongrass (white part only, thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced galangal
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 3 lbs. chicken (cut into pieces)
- 1 lb. potatoes (peeled and cut into pieces)
- 1 cup water
- Salt and sugar to taste
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- Cilantro (for garnishing, optional)
- In a blender, transfer all the ingredients for the Spice Paste and puree until smooth. Set aside.
- In a Dutch oven or a heavy pot, heat up the oil on medium heat When the oil is heated, add the mustard seeds and cook until you can hear the popping sound from the mustard seeds.
- Add the Spice Paste into the oil and fry until aromatic, about 10 minutes or until the oil separates and floats to the top.
- Add the chicken, stir to coat with the spice paste. Let cook for about 8-10 minutes, add in the potatoes. Stir to combine well.
- Pour in the water. The water should barely cover the meat and potatoes. Add the salt and sugar to taste. Stir well and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat to simmer, cover with a lid and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and sugar. Add the white vinegar or tamarind juice (refer to Notes). Stir to mix well.
- Turn off the heat and serve the Devil's Curry with cilantro as the garnishing, if using. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.
Hi, can I use a regular pot instead of a cast iron pot? Why does your recipe suggest the use of a cast iron pot?
You can use any pot you like. Cast iron spreads heat evenly.
My grandmother used to cook this during Xmas. The smell is so unbelievably wonderful, guaranteed to stop people walking past your house! Brings back so many good memories..
My mummy used to cook this every New year’s eve for New year’s day, with the leftover Xmas turkey that no-one ate. We never thought she’d be taken from us so soon, none of us had time to learn how to cook it. Then I came across your site and have been recreating some of her recipes Thank-you so much.
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.
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.