Chinese Curry Chicken With Home-Made Curry Paste

Chinese Curry Chicken 3

Chinese Curry Chicken

This was my first time making curry chicken from scratch – chopping up individual spices and then blending all of them into a paste. This set of ingredients is almost identical to those of the ‘Malay Spicy Ayam Masak Merah‘: candlenuts, galangal, lemongrass, chillies, shallots etc. It was therefore amazing to see how a similar set of ingredients could churn out a different dish altogether.

What also fascinated me was the fact that as long as the right combination of spices is used, there isn’t a need to use curry powder anymore. In fact, I am more in favour of making curry this way as it helps to reduce the bitter aftertaste that is inherent in the powder. Using this paste and curry leaves in place of curry powder also helps to avoid leaving behind a strong curry smell in my kitchen and having it on my clothes after all the cooking is done (which happens all the time)!


  • Shallots: 15 (30g), peeled and washed
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, peeled and washed
  • Candlenut: 6
  • Galangal (blue ginger): 20g (thumb-length), peeled, washed and sliced
  • Ginger: 20g (thumb-length), peeled, washed and sliced
  • Ground turmeric: 2 tbsp
  • Dried chilli: 25g, soaked in lukewarm water for 30min, drained
  • Fresh red chilli: 6, seeded, sliced
  • Lemongrass: 2 stalks, sliced into finger lengths
  • Roasted shrimp paste belacan: 1 tsp
  • Oil: 4 tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 2 stalks, washed
  • Chicken drumstick (or other parts): 1 kg (marinated overnight with 1 tsp salt and white pepper)
  • Coconut milk: 200ml + 200ml
  • Water: 750ml
  • Potato: 6, peeled and quartered
  • Salt: 4 tsp
  • Sugar: 2 tsp
  • Coriander: 1 stalk, finely chopped


  1. Blend shallots, garlic, candlenut, galangal, ginger, turmeric, chillies, lemongrass and belacan together to form a curry paste.
  2. Heat oil in wok. Fry blended paste and curry leaves together till fragrant.
  3. Stir in chicken and coat well with paste.
  4. Add 200ml coconut milk and water and leave to boil. Then lower the heat to simmer for 20 min.
  5. Add potatoes. Leave to simmer for 10 min.
  6. Add remaining 200ml coconut milk, salt and sugar and simmer for another 10 min. Adjust amount of salt and sugar according to your preference.
  7. Garnish with coriander. Serve hot with plain rice.

Chinese Curry Chicken 2


  • As this is a thicker version of Chinese curry chicken compared to what we usually find outside, you could substitute the last 200ml of coconut milk with low-fat milk for a less thicker version.
  • I always hate it that we have to waste a huge amount of curry leaves after using just a minute amount of them in my recipes. What I did this time, though, was to wash, pat dry and deep-fry the remaining leaves in oil and with spoonfuls of spicy shrimp floss. This makes for an especially delicious topping for rice.


  • Most curry recipes call for the use of fresh turmeric (8g) rather than the ground version. I had to resort to using the latter since I couldn’t find any fresh ones in any local supermarkets. Come to think of it – I don’t think I’ve even seen it in any supermarkets before!

4 – 5 persons

 Fiery rating:
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