Chicken Curry Kapitan: Rich, delicious and spicy

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This super easy recipe for chicken curry calls for spices and coconut milk that make for a rich and spicy curry gravy. It is delicious and best served with steamed rice, roti jala or roti canai.

Chicken curry originated from the Indian subcontinent but is popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It is also well loved by many in England and the Caribbean.

Here are the different kinds of curries, mostly made with chicken:

• Indian curry

• Malaysian curry

• Thai curry

• Green curry

• Red curry

These are all distinct recipes but the underlying flavours are pretty much the same – all are spicy, rich and delicious.

The recipe for the Chicken Curry Kapitan below is a “dry” curry, meaning the gravy is thicker than most others.

It has also been adapted from the more traditional Indian chicken curry. Kapitan is the name given to appointed Chinese chiefs during the Portuguese and Dutch colonisation of Malaysia.


• 2 tablespoons cooking oil

• 680g boneless chicken thighs and/or breasts, cut into pieces

• 2 stalks lemongrass – white part only, cut into 4-inch lengths, pounded

• 6-8 kaffir lime leaves

• 1 cup coconut milk

• 1 tablespoon lime juice

• salt to taste

Spice paste:

• 1 1/2 inches galangal

• 200g fresh red chilies, de-seeded and sliced

• 5 shallots, peeled and sliced

• 1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced

• 6 candle nuts

• 1/2 inch fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced

• 1/4 teaspoon belacan (shrimp paste)


• Blend all spice paste ingredients to a very fine paste.
• Heat cooking oil in a wok and stir-fry spice paste until aromatic or when a thin layer of oil rises to the top.

• Add chicken, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

• Keep stirring until chicken is almost cooked.

• Add the coconut milk, simmer for 15-20 minutes, over low heat.

• Add lime juice and salt.

• Serve hot with steamed rice.


• If you can’t find candle nuts, use macadamia nuts instead.

This article first appeared in

Low Bee Yinn is a food blogger and cookbook author.