Recipe: Nyonya Chicken Curry

You don’t get more definitively Malaysian than this classic Nyonya dish. It is the mainstay of every Malaysian pot luck dinner. Simple to make and bursting with flavour you’re sure to love it!

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 5-6


  • 3 Tbs coconut cream
  • 10 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 kg chicken thigh fillets
  • 500g baby chat potatoes, peeled, halved and parboiled
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies deseeded and halved lengthways
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 tsp sugar


Rempah (wet spice paste)

  • 3 Tbs ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 15 dried long red chillies*, deseeded*, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained and chopped
  • 20g belacan
  • 25g fresh turmeric root, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
  • 270g red eschallots OR Spanish onion, peeled, sliced
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

* Dried chillies – There are several types of dried chillies. For this recipe please choose the type that are about finger sized. The smaller ones are very hot and the broader, larger ones mild. Also please never replace dried chillies with fresh ones as they don’t impart the smokiness of flavour and depth of colour required for this dish.

* Deseeding chillies – Before soaking, snip chillies into quarter segments with scissors into a colander with largish holes and then shake the seeds out.


To make the rempah, blend the rempah ingredients until you achieve a fine paste.

Heat heavy based saucepan or wok, to a medium heat. Add rempah, coconut cream, curry leaves, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick and saute for about 10 minutes. You will know the paste is ready when it thickens, darkens in colour and the oil begins to separate from the mixture. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add potatoes, chillies, coconut milk, salt and sugar. Cover and simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked through.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice or roti canai.


If you like this recipe and are in the area, you may want to check out the following event:


When: Saturday 3 December 2016 – Sunday 4 December 2016
Time:  11:30am – 8:30pm
Where: Pyrmont Bay Park
Admission: Free

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