Malaysian Chicken Curry

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Serves 6 people
Prep time
Cook Time

I was fortunate enough to wear my travel hat and food hat at the same time when I took a group of esteemed foodies out to Malaysia on a press trip through my travel business, Essential Escapes. We stayed at the incredible Datai in Langkawi, voted one of the top 10 hotels in the world on a beach that claimed the same title. We were there trying out the new “Dapur”, better known as Malay kitchen at the Gulai Cookery School. One of the two dishes we made was a “Gulai Udang Tumis Darat” translated as prawn curry with pineapple, green beans and tomato. Not really a fan of pineapple cooked with savoury food, or cooked tomatoes, I tampered with the recipe a little and switched to the things I love.

Most ingredients are readily available in commercial supermarkets if you don’t have an oriental one near you. Any green veg can be substituted and this would work with any meat or fish of your choosing (just alter the cooking times accordingly.) Please note I’ve used creamed coconut instead of coconut milk which is thicker and more concentrated. If you can’t get, use a tin of coconut milk but keep in the fridge until some of the liquid has gone solid and use the creamy bit from the top.


  • 6 Tablespoons
    vegetable or sunflower oil (divided)
  • 1 Kilogram
    chicken thigh, cut into chunks
  • 3 large shallots, sliced
  • 3 thick coins of ginger, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • handful of fresh or dried curry leaves (around 10)
  • 2 Teaspoons
    cumin seeds
  • 2 Teaspoons
    brown mustard seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon
    fennel seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon
    fenugreek seeds
  • 400 Millilitres
  • 2 Tablespoons
    tamarind paste
  • 400 Millilitres
    tin of creamed coconut
  • 100 Grams
    green beans, chopped in half
  • salt and sugar to taste
  • bunch of Morning glory, or any Asian greens of choice, chopped
  • 5 Tablespoons
    medium curry powder (I used Baba Fish Curry Spice)


  1. Add a tablespoon of the oil to a large, deep saucepan and fry the chicken over for around 5 minutes till lightly coloured. Set aside and discard any liquid

  2. Add the remaining oil and when hot, turn down to medium heat and add the shallot, ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Stir continuously until fragrant and everything has softened.

  3. add the spices, curry powder and tamarind paste and stir for a few seconds, then add the water.

  4. Put the chicken back into the pan, then add the coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer.

  5. At this point check for seasoning adding salt and sugar to taste (I found 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar about right).

  6. Finally add the green beans and Asian greens and cook for a further 3-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly.

  7. Serve over sticky rice.