Kari Ayam (Authentic Malaysian Chicken Curry)

Having lived in Malaysia for many years, I‚Äôve grown to love the spices & herbs from this region. Laksa curry, Char kway teow, Kuih, Roti jala & the mighty Nasi lemak. Yummmūü§ć

One of my favourite comfort foods is rice with kari ayam- slightly spicy & a creamy chicken curry which I always keep going back to. The authentic ones are found in the ‚Äėmamak‚Äô shops, which are the street side eateries selling unpretentious authentic local delicacies.

Now there are few keys to a good chicken curry Malaysian style. For instance,

1. The meat curry powderРMalaysian meat curry powder is a spice blend which includes ground coriander, chili, fennel, cumin, star anise, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf, turmeric, white pepper and black pepper. I always used Baba’s meat curry powder back in Kuala Lumpur & thankfully got few boxes packed with me in Toronto which would last me for a long time. You could make your own blend at home which is super easy, by just following the many videos available on YouTube.
2. Candlenut– this is added to thicken the curry & lend a beautiful texture. You can substitute it with macadamia nuts like I did.

Something about this dish is highly addictive, I can‚Äôt really explain what exactly! So for now I‚Äôll leave you with this lovely recipe given to me by my next door makcik (aunty in Malay language)ūüėÄ


  • 500 g¬†Boneless chicken thigh, cut into curry style pieces
  • 4 heaped tablespoon¬†Malaysian meat curry powder (recipe easily available on internet)
  • 1¬†tbsp¬†Soy sauce
  • 5¬†Shallots
  • 2¬Ĺ¬†Inch of fresh ginger
  • 5¬†Fat cloves of garlic
  • 4¬†Candlenuts (or 6-7 macadamia nuts)
  • 3¬†Dried red chilli
  • 1¬†Large cinnamon piece
  • 4¬†Cloves
  • 4¬†Cardamom (green)
  • 1¬†Star anise
  • 4¬†Sprigs of curry leaves
  • 3¬†Medium sized potatoes, halved
  • 1¬†Lemongrass stalk
  • 300 ml¬†Coconut milk
  • 3¬†tbsps¬†Olive oil (or any white oil)


Marinate chicken with 1 tbsp meat curry powder & 1 tbsp light soy sauce. Leave it aside for at least 15-20 mins.

Now for the aromatics, make a paste with the shallots, ginger, garlic, candlenuts, dried red chilies, remaining meat curry powder & little water. Heat 3 tbsps oil in a pot & sauté the whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise & few curry leaves.

Once fragrant, add the spice blend & fry until red & the oil separates. Throw in the marinated chicken & cook well on high heat for at least 5-10 mins.

Now add hot water according to the gravy consistency you want, & let it come to a boil.

Toss in the potato cubes, remaining fresh curry leaves & lemongrass & then lower the heat, simmering for at least 30 mins.

Finally add the coconut milk, salt & sugar (optional) & let it cook for another 5 mins before serving.