Mum’s cookbook: Southeast Asian chicken curry [recipe below]

Curry chickenCurries taste vastly different depending on where you are having them and in Southeast Asia, we like it spicy and flavorful. In my family, we are used to handling it real hot and this might potentially sound crazy but eating spicy food does help to cool you down amidst the heat and intense humidity.

And Singaporeans love our curries so much that we have it…
– with various meats, fish, beef, chicken, or simply some vegetables
– during breakfast as a dip, as a soup base with noodles for lunch or as a main dish with rice for dinner.
– on all occasions – during weddings, parties and even at funerals (I kid you not)

You get it. Curry is THAT deeply ingrained into our national food psyche.

At the heart of most Southeast Asian curries would be a great rempah recipe. It is a mixture of numerous spices that serves as a basic building block for many Southeast Asian dishes, just like how a great chicken stock would be for soups. If you could nail a good rempah, you are halfway through to whipping up many plates of Southeast Asian cuisine.

My mum makes her own and you could try to make it yourself though it is a very tedious process involving many spices. (Links for recipes HERE and HERE) The easier way out would be to buy it from Asian supermarkets either the dry or wet rempah.

To jazz the curry up, fresh pandan leaves would be added and steeped to give off a divine aromatic smell that gives this local dish a distinctive taste. Yet do note the green leaves could be difficult to find outside of the region.
curry chickenBelow is my family’s recipe for some sweat-inducing curry chicken. You could have it on its own or load it up with rice, noodles or fresh baguettes. As a side note, do cook the curry early in order to give the meat and potatoes sufficient time to soak up the golden liquid.

Southeast Asian chicken curry (makes about 6 to 8 people)

1 whole chicken, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunky pieces
11/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tin of evaporated milk or 1 packet of coconut milk or 375ml of fresh coconut milk
Rempah (dry or wet paste)
Pandan leaves [optional]

(From L - R) Fry the rempah, add in the chopped chicken parts, pour evaporated milk and pandan leaves in
(From L – R) Fry the rempah, add in the chopped chicken parts, pour evaporated milk and pandan leaves in

1. Fry rempah paste with oil till fragrant
(By fragrant, you should be choking and having runny nose from the overpowering chilli smell)
2. Add chopped chicken parts to stir fry
3. Pour in tin of evaporated milk or coconut milk
4. Fill same tin with water and add into mixture or add approximately 375 ml of water
5. Add salt
6. Tie pandan leaves before adding into curry
7. Cook curry for about 15 minutes before putting potato chunks in. This will prevent potatoes from becoming mushy
8. Stir till chicken is cooked. Off the fire and leave curry in pot. Heat when serve

“Mum’s Cookbook” is an ongoing effort by me to record down the recipes of mouthwatering dishes that my mother makes in bid to record down a part of my heritage and some interesting kitchen larder tales. For other fantastic recipes from my “Mum’s Cookbook” project, CLICK HERE.

8 thoughts on “Mum’s cookbook: Southeast Asian chicken curry [recipe below]

  1. That looks so delicious. I might well have to give that recipe a try, although I’m not sure where I’d get the rempah paste from? Is it known as anything else, or can it be substituted in any way?

    1. Glad that you’re interested to try it! For the rempah, you might want to try checking out your Asian supermarket to see if they do carry it. Otherwise, you could consider making it though its backbreaking work. (Here’s one recipe you might want to look into:

      However, if you’re looking for an alternative, you might want to try using curry powder. It’s approximately one packet of curry powder for this recipe. However, the taste is going to differ slightly for the lack a variety of spices.

      Hope I’ve answered your queries!

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