Chicken Curry Recipe by Anis Nabilah

We’re very lucky to have easy access to readymade curry powder that can be used to make a great chicken curry. The older generation used to make their own curry powder, and we can if we wanted to as well, but it involves a long and laborious process requiring several different ingredients including fresh chilies and aniseed.

The recipe I’m sharing with you below is one I got from the great-grandmother who has Pakistani ancestry. She uses candlenuts and polished poppy seeds to add a richness to the chicken curry.



  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 30 curry leaves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/4 dried nutmeg
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 1 tbsp polished poppy seeds
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into six portions each
  • 1” ginger, peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, bruised
  • 4 green chilies
  • 4 medium red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • warm water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil



  1. Add candlenuts, nutmeg, polished poppy seeds, garlic cloves, ginger and 1 green chili – cut into smaller pieces – to a mortar. Pound with a pestle until it becomes a smooth paste. You can also use a blender, but don’t use too much water when blending so the mixture doesn’t get watery when it is sautéed.
  2. In a bowl, add curry powder, chili powder for extra heat and ½ cup warm water. Mix until thoroughly combined into a paste.



  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add 2 tbsp ghee for the aroma.
  2. Once the ghee has melted, add curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves and star anise, followed by sliced onions. Stir and sauté until the onions are caramelized.
  3. Add another 2 tbsp ghee. Stir to melt.
  4. Next, add curry paste and stir until the oil has separated (pecah minyak). This step ensures the spices are thoroughly cooked and makes it keep for longer. If your curry paste looks dry but has not separated, add more cooking oil. Continuously stir so your spices don’t burn.
  5. Add ¼ cup water to your curry paste bowl to let it moisten the leftovers paste.
  6. Once the oil has separated, add leftover curry paste water, followed by the spices pounded earlier. Stir and add about ½ cup water.
  7. Next, add potatoes. These will take some time to soften and cook, so add them in early.
  8. Add in bruised lemongrass stalks, followed by chicken.
  9. When the chicken has turned from pink to white that means it’s half cooked. Add in tomatoes and the rest of the green chilies.
  10. When your curry starts to boil, add salt and sugar.
  11. Once the chicken has cooked thoroughly, add coconut milk. Give it a good stir to mix through and let the curry come to a quick boil.
  12. The chicken curry is ready!


Extra tips

  1. I recommend using local potatoes for this recipe. Avoid using russet or US potatoes as they tend to disintegrate faster – making them excellent for mashed potatoes, but not so much for curries.
  2. You can also use shallots instead of red onions for a sweeter flavour.
  3. If you want more sourness to your chicken curry, use plain yogurt instead of coconut milk.
  4. Do not add coconut milk too early as it will split if it cooks for too long and become lumpy.


Happy cooking! For more details on how to prepare chicken curry, check out this link for the YouTube video or watch it below. I’ve also shared a few more recipes that I hope you will enjoy.



Video courtesy of Anis Nabilah and Official Kartel TV.

Anis Nabilah

Guest Chef

Anis Nabilah is an accomplished international celebrity chef with many awards under her belt, including a medal from the 2007 Culinaire competition. In 2014, she was selected as one of the world’s 80 most influential celebrity chefs invited to participate in "Restaurant Australia", a campaign organised by Tourism Australia. A household name in Malaysia, Anis has hosted 35 cooking shows aired on all the main local TV networks, including Malaysia’s number one cooking show, Selera on TV3. She has also been featured on several shows on the Asian Food Channel and TLC Asia.

Love Malaysian food and culture? Find Malaysian recipes and stories on culture here in the Butterkicap community. Join us.

Sign up for Butterkicap

Tweet us 

Show the world just how amazing Malaysian food is.

Hashtag us at #butterkicap

Please check your feed, the data was entered incorrectly.