Chicken Curry with Potatoes | Kari Ayam


10 Minutes


40 Minutes




Malaysian curry with rice is a staple food for Malaysians. There are hundreds of different Malaysian curries – Malay curry, Indian curry, Chinese curry and even fusion curry borrowed from each others.

"Kari Ayam" is a classic traditional chicken curry popular with Malaysian Chinese in Penang. "Kari" comes from a Malay word meaning "curry". It is also a colloquial Penang Hokkien word. "Ayam" is also a Malay word meaning "chicken".

The first time I cooked this simple and easy chicken curry is when I was studying in the United States. Missing the food back home in Malaysia, I started cooking with a group of other Malaysian international students that I shared a student apartment. This is the first chicken curry with potatoes that I cooked with my university friends. It is an easy chicken curry to make using Malaysian curry powder and coconut milk as key ingredients.

In my Malaysian chicken curry version, I am going to show you how to make easy chicken curry in 3 easy steps. As this is for a beginner, I call this easy chicken curry 101.

Chicken Curry with Potatoes | Kari Ayam


  1. Marinade the chicken

  2. Make the curry spice paste

  3. Fry the curry spice paste until aromatic

  4. Create the curry gravy by adding some liquid such as water or chicken stock

  5. Cook the chicken and potato in the curry gravy

How to make

Marinate the chicken. First chop the drumsticks in halved. Marinate chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon light soy, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight.

Make the spice paste. Chop the ingredients – garlic, lemongrass, red onion, ginger, turmeric (if no fresh turmeric, use 1 teaspoon turmeric powder) and add in a blender. Also add dried chilies (presoaked in hot water for an hour to soften) and 1 teaspoon toasted “belachan” (optional). Blend until smooth.

Cooking. Remove the potato’s skin and cut into quarters. Place in salted water and set aside. In a hot pan, add 1 cup cooking oil. Once oil is slightly hot, toss in cinnamon stick and star anises. Wait until these dried spices started to bubble on the sides. Then add the blended spice paste. Give it a quick fry for 1-2 minutes before adding 3 tablespoons curry powder. Mix through and continue to fry until fragrant for another 1-2 minutes. Add some water or chicken stock if the spices are looking dry. Then add the marinated chicken pieces and 1-2 cups of chicken stock (just enough to almost cover the chicken but not fully). Bring the heat to high to boil the chicken for 5-10 minutes. Lower the heat to low-medium and cover with lid to gentle simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the lid and add the potatoes (without the salted water). Add the coconut milk and mix through gently and evenly. Cover the lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

Remove and plate. Garnish with some fried shallots.



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  • 6 chicken drumsticks with bone and skin

  • 8 small red skinned potatoes

  • 10 dried chilies

  • 1 red onion

  • 1 fresh turmeric

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 lemongrass stalk

  • 2 inches fresh ginger

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 3 star anise

  • 3 sprigs curry leaves

  • Ayam brand curry powder

  • Ayam brand 270ml coconut milk

  • turmeric power

  • belachan (Malaysian shrimp paste) – optional

  • light soy

  • salt and white pepper

  • 1-2 cups chicken stock