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    Nyonya Chicken Curry Recipe

    This sizzling dish by Poh Ling Yeow fuses the best of Malaysian and Chinese flavours and spices.

    Nyonya Chicken is such a definitive Malaysian dish and definite crowd pleaser. It is so loved in my family that it has a permanent, albeit out-of-place, position next to the other festive goodies on our Christmas table every year!

    Prep time: 30

    Total time: 60

    Serves: 6


    3 tablespoons 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 tablespoon salt

    1 teaspoon sugar

    Rempah (wet spice paste)

    3 tablespoons ground coriander

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon 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

    Coconut rice

    2 cups jasmine rice

    2 cups coconut milk

    1 3/4 cup water

    1 pandan leaf shredded by hand and tied into a knot

    1/2 tsp salt

    * 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.


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

    2. 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.

    3. For coconut rice, add water and coconut milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add rice, and pandan leaf and return to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and stir well. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and fluff with a fork.

    4. Serve with roti canai and a side of cucumber.

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