Malaysian Chicken Curry (Updated)

Malaysian Chicken Curry on banana leaf and newspaper setup

Malaysian Chicken Curry on banana leaf and newspaper setup. Street food concept, easy clean up for a dinner party and guests love it especially served with ice cold Tiger Beer!

I can make my Mom’s Malaysian Chicken Curry blindfolded.  It’s so easy and fast. A simple “one dish meal” I make in my cast iron wok.  Open cover and VOILA, done. You never get tired of it. It’s so delicious, typically served with basmati rice, I prefer brown jasmine rice but entirely your preference as always. It’s also great with the Indian naan or paratha or both rice and paratha for carb overload.  Yes, I like to mix with other country’s way of serving.  Mom always served Malaysian Chicken Curry with a cucumber, tomato, onion pickle to “cool” down the spicy curry, yin and yang. I’ll show how to make this yummy pickle in another post.

When I was growing up in Hong Kong, my mom got my sisters and I pounding all the spices by hand in a HEAVY stone mortar and pestle.  I’m now the proud owner of that mortar and pestle. I had fantasies of how wonderful it would be to have freshly pounded spices. It didn’t last more than a week, it’s just not very practical for a small person to haul around a 60 pound mortar (exaggerating but really heavy). I now use a food processor to grind the “rempah”.

Stone mortar & pestle

Mom’s stone mortar & pestle

I know purists say there’s no such thing as “curry” but I’m here to tell you there is and here’s how to make it…

Curry is basically many spices ground into powder. There are many different ways to make curry. I always choose the EASY, SIMPLE way, that’s what we, Wok Stars do.

Malaysian curries usually start with “rempah”,  to kickstart the dish. Rempah can include spices like coriander, tumeric, chili powder, galangal(yellow ginger), blachan (dried shrimp paste). My personal preference is NOT to add the spicy stuff in the rempah because when you fry it, it’s extremely pungent and makes you cough and sputter.

My simple version of a Rempah is just garlic, ginger and shallots.  Since the curry powder already has many of the spices like tumeric, coriander, cumin, chillies in it, there’s no need to add any more.

Rempah: garlic, ginger, shallots

Rempah: garlic, ginger, shallots

Curry Powder

My mom started using Baba’s Curry Powder when we all left home, ha, ha. Baba’s is the BEST brand, best stored in freezer to preserve potency. It’s all mixed and ready to go, no grinding required. I like EASY and CONVENIENT. 

Curries differ in spices used in India, Malaysia and Thailand. These are the 3 main countries that I associate curry with. I don’t necessarily agree with Wikipedia’s explanation of “curry”.

You can get good curry powder from Indian stores or Asian markets but I’ve never seen Malaysian curry powder, you can order from here. 

Baba's Curry powder. Add a little water to make a paste.

Baba’s Curry powder. Add a little water to make a paste.

I absolutely love the smell of curry powder when it hits the hot wok. Yes, I cook curry in my cast iron wok. It’s the perfect shape and size, makes it easy to turn chicken around. If you’re worried about the acid from tomatoes or strong spices hurting your wok, I can assure you that once you wash it out and cure with a bit of oil and start using it, your patina will build up IMMEDIATELY.

You can HALVE this recipe if you just want to cook one tray of chicken (6 thighs) but curry is always better the next day. So, I like making a BIG batch since I’m doing the work already.
Note 1: Just a word of warning, curry powder has tumeric, it turns everything yellow! So, cover your countertops if you don’t want any stains.
Note 2: I used Nuwave Mosaic Precision Induction Wok Stove to cook this curry. This is not a sponsored post. I wrote a review about this stove here. If you cannot have open flame where you live, this is a GREAT ALTERNATIVE! 
Vegetables for Malaysian Chicken Curry

Vegetables for Malaysian Chicken Curry, oops missing ginger

Only 3 vegetables in Malaysian Chicken Curry

Only 3 vegetables in a Malaysian Chicken Curry

Rempah and curry paste for Malaysian Curry Chicken

Rempah, spices and curry paste for Malaysian Chicken Curry

Fry Onions and set aside

Fry Onions and set aside. I am using the Nuwave Mosaic Precision Induction Wok Stove and worked really well.

Next, fry rempah

Next, fry rempah. See how I’ve lowered temperature.

Use spatula to smear chicken with curry paste

Add chicken and use spatula to smear chicken with curry paste

Add in onions and tomatoes

Add in onions and tomatoes and put lid on.

Last, add potatoes in to absorb curry flavors.

Last, add potatoes in to absorb curry flavors.

Malaysian Chicken Curry bowl

Malaysian Chicken Curry bowl with basmati rice

Fresh ingredients:
2 trays of chicken thighs, drumsticks or quarters (skinless if you want)
1 large onion, cubed
1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced into wedges (or 4-6 plum/round tomatoes)
1 large potato, cut into large cubes (precook but still firm)
2 tblsp. grape seed oil for frying
enough water to just cover chickenSpices:
1 small stick cinnamon
4-6 cloves
5 tblsp. curry powder
5 tblsp. cold waterBlend rempah in food processor:
4-6 cloves garlic
4-6 slices fresh ginger
4-6 shallots (if you can’t get these, don’t worry, still good)

1. You know the stir fry drill, heat your cast iron wok, squirt oil, fry onions. Set aside.

2. Clean wok, always start with a clean wok otherwise you’ll get a hard fond forming at the bottom of your wok and you won’t be able to “brown” anything.  Turn on low to medium heat. Fry rempah and dry spices (cinnamon stick and cloves) for a bit. Don’t let it burn. Add the curry paste and immediately add the chicken and onions. Use spatula and coat chicken and onions with the paste as best you can, don’t worry if it’s not completely all over.

3. Add just enough water but not completely cover chicken. Once the curry starts to boil, turn down heat to simmer. Time it takes to cook depends on quantity. At this time, add in tomato wedges and potatoes so they have time to absorb the curry flavor before you serve. Cook till chicken is tender.

This Malaysian Chicken Curry never fails to please me and guests! Share your feedback in comments if you make this curry.

Malaysian Chicken Curry cooked in two cast iron woks.

Malaysian Chicken Curry cooked in two cast iron woks.

Mom's Malaysian Chicken Curry with naan and ice cold, Tiger Beer

Mom’s Malaysian Chicken Curry with naan (front), chipati and ice cold Tiger Beer.

6 Responses to Malaysian Chicken Curry (Updated)
  1. Eleanor Hoh
    April 24, 2011 | 11:53 pm
  2. Anonymous
    April 24, 2011 | 9:53 pm
  3. Eleanor Hoh
    October 3, 2009 | 11:08 am
  4. Chef Jeena
    October 3, 2009 | 9:23 am
  5. Kamran Siddiqi
    September 26, 2009 | 11:20 am
  6. MaryMoh
    September 26, 2009 | 12:20 am
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