Chicken Kapitan Curry

Malaysian restaurants are common in Australia and New Zealand and I got a bit of a taste for Kapitan Curry otherwise known as Chicken Kapitan Curry. Kapitan Curry is a Nonya / Straights Chinese dish. This is a dry curry lacks the gravy of the Malaysian Chicken Curry.

Chicken Kapitan Curry


Ingredients for Spice Mix

  • 160 grams 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1.5 cm chunk of fresh ginger peeled and sliced
  • 3 teaspoons of chilli powder or 5 dried red chillies soaked or 3 fresh chillies
  • seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 15 grams of raw nuts1 or just peanut butter
  • 3 stalks of lemon grass trimmed, with outer leaves removed, and sliced, or
  • zest of one lime/lemon
  • 2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste
  • [Optional] 1 teaspoon chopped galangal
  • [Optional] 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • [Optional] 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • [Optional] 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • [Optional] 1/6 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • Oil or water

Other ingredients

  • 160 grams onions 1 large or shallots (8), thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons Peanut Groundnut Oil
  • Another 2 or 3 tablespoons Peanut Groundnut Oil
  • 800 grams fresh chicken pieces legs, drumsticks, thighs, whatever
  • [Optional] 3-4 pieces Kaffir lime leaves fresh or soaked
  • [Optional] 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk or 3/4 cup of water
  • [Optional] 1/3 cup lime juice or tamarind juice2
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk or 3/4 cup if used water instead of thin coconut milk above


  • Heat 2 or 3 tablespoons oil in a wok on high then lower to medium heat
  • Add onion or shallots and salt
  • Brown well. Drain on paper towels. Put aside for later
  • Blend spice paste ingredients using a little oil or water to moisten, then set aside
  • Heat 2 or 3 more tablespoons oil in a wok (or heavy pot) on high then lower to medium heat
  • Add spice paste to the wok
  • Stir fry until spice paste is toasted - should be aromatic - do not burn
  • Add chicken, lime leaves and sugar to wok
  • Stir to coat chicken with curry paste (about 3-5 mins)
  • Add thin coconut milk and lime juice to to wok, stir, and season
  • Bring to boil
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer chicken in coconut milk for 20 min, stirring occasionally
  • Add thick coconut milk, simmer uncovered, 10-15 min until chicken tender and gravy thickens
  • Transfer to serving dice
  • Garnish chicken with fried onion or shallots


(1) The most authentic are Candle nuts but I've never seen them for sale in the UK. Substitutes are Macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, Cashews, or blanched Almonds. Candle nuts are toxic unless cooked well.
(2) For 1/3 cup of tamarind juice, soak 1 teaspoon pulp with 1/3 cup of hot water for 5 min, mash, and strain
Serve with Roti or steamed rice

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