Tale #54 Kari Ayam

When the beast was galavanting around London some months ago, Malaysia night was happening in Trafalgar Square. One of the highlights was obviously all the free stuff, which happened to include recipe cards from Malaysia Kitchen for some of the most popular and traditional Malaysian dishes. As these cards were starting to collect dust in my cabinet, coupled with the fact that every store except those in Chinatown were closed over the Easter weekend, I decided to give it a go and make some kari ayam, or Malaysian chicken curry.

Through various readings it seems to be that Indonesia takes credit for kari ayam as an Indonesian curry and Malaysians consider it a Malaysian curry. Singapore also tries to get in there too. I’m not going to settle any ancient curry disputes on this blog so let’s just all agree that curry is wonderful and we should all eat it all the time.

Fun fact of the day: The word curry was adopted and anglicised from the Tamil word kari meaning ‘sauce,’ which is usually understood to mean vegetables and/or meat cooked with spices with or without a gravy.

Recipe courtesy of Malaysia Kitchen with a few minor amends. You can use prawns (shrimp), beef or just vegetables for this recipe. For a vegetarian curry, sweet potato, aubergines (eggplant) and butternut squash are recommended.



Serves 2

  • 400g chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 3tbsp Malaysian meat curry powder (Adabi brand recommended)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon bark, 5cm
  • 1 pandan leaf, tied in a knot (use bay or curry leaves as an alternative)
  • 3 tbsp tamarind juice
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 4 baby potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup jasmine rice (Cook according to instructions)

*Note: this recipe did not call for use of any chili oil or fresh chillies but I would add 1 tsp of chili oil and one or two chopped fresh chillies

Wash the chicken breast and cut into thin slices (so the meat can absorb the flavours of the curry sauce. Set aside.




Peel potatoes and carrots. Cut the potatoes into quarters and slice the carrot pieces about 1cm thick. Blend the onion, garlic and ginger until pureed (adding a little water if required). If you don’t have a food processor make sure to chop these into extremely tiny pieces.


Heat up 8 tbsp of cooking oil (I used vegetable oil) in a saucepan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the aromas rise.

Next add in the star anise, cinnamon bark and pandan leaf. Cook until the ingredients start turning brown, then add in the curry powder, water, salt, sugar and tamarind juice. Cook until the oil separates from the rest of the ingredients. Add in the chicken pieces, potato and carrot. Simmer on a medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. This will take about 15 minutes.








Add in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and serve with rice.











4 thoughts on “Tale #54 Kari Ayam

  1. Great to see you trying out Kari Ayam and very interesting fact about the origin of the word curry! I would definitely agree that you need chilli to really give this dish a bit of a kick. Can you (or any other readers) please suggest some good places in London to buy these ingredients, especially pandan leaves and tamarind juice? Also, I know galangal is often used in Malay cuisine, can you shed any light on this ingredient and how it should be used? Thanks!

    1. Good questions — the supermarkets in Chinatown near Leicester Square will have all the ingredients you need. In particular, Loon Fung and New Loon Moon Supermarket are quite good. Also there might be an international supermarket or a specifically Chinese or South East Asian supermarket closer to you so would be best to check online.
      Galangal is in the ginger family and is used in the majority of Thai curry pastes and dishes such as Thai green curry and Beef panang curry. I am not too sure about specific Malaysian recipes that use galangal but perhaps some other readers can shed light on this based on their own cooking experiences!

  2. Thanks very much Ms. Beast, really useful! Yes I would be grateful if anyone else can let me know… is there anyone out there?? 🙂

  3. Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s
    on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design.
    Excellent choice of colors!

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