Malaysian Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam)

Cook Eat WorldAsianMalaysian Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam)
By Published On: May 17th, 2021

For the most authentic Malaysian Kari Ayam (Chicken Curry) you need the most authentic ingredients. Discover how to make the most wonderful Malay Chicken Curry at home – Spoiler: it couldn’t be easier!

Malaysian Chicken Curry

A good Malaysian Chicken Curry is truly deserving as one of the finest dishes in the world. A unique marriage of South East Asian and Indian cuisines - and this recipe creates a heady, fragrant and utterly intoxicating curry.

Malaysian food is a triumph of flavour, colour and fragrance and never more evident than in this fantastic Kari Ayam (Chicken Curry). And now you can create this exact and super authentic flavour at home - and the splendid news it that it couldn't be simpler. It's just one of the dishes from my Best Malaysian Curry Recipes - check one, or all, of those out too.

In this Kari Ayam (Curry Chicken) juicy chicken sits alongside creamy, soft potatoes (kentang) in a wonderfully fragrant coconut sauce. Anise is a key flavour in my recipe and it marries perfectly with the combination of spices that go into the special curry powder. It's a celebration of flavour and fragrance.

A curry powder like no other!

A good Malaysian Kari Ayam starts with a solid taste foundation - a good spice blend to aid in creating those unique, authentic flavours. Making your own Malaysian curry powder at home is simple - I grind a large batch from time to time and it keeps for up to 6 months - always at hand. Check out my Malaysian Curry Powder recipe to see how easy it is to make. You'll need a few spices:

  • Fennel seeds
  • Star anise
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Cardamom pods
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Paprika


Malaysian Curry Powder

The great thing about having a homemade curry powder is that you always have it on hand - enabling you to whip up this treasure within an hour.

If you're looking for a more convenient path to Kari Ayam, then you should also consider one of the excellent store-bought options available. My favourite store-bought curry powder is Yeo's Malaysian Curry Powder (shown below). As a rule of thumb, always choose a powder labelled "Malaysian Curry Powder" and for Kari Ayam and similar curries, the label may also read "Malaysian Curry Powder for Meat."

Malaysian Chicken Curry

A step by step guide

Making this curry is easy, and ready in 30 minutes

  1. Season the oil with fresh curry leaves and star anise
  2. Seal the chicken in the fragrant oil
  3. Add the Malaysian Curry Powder and get ready for an assault on the senses!
  4. Pour over coconut milk to add a luxuriant flavour and texture
  5. Add some potatoes to the sauce for a combination of textures
  6. Simmer for 25 minutes - and that's it!

Malaysian Chicken Curry with potatoes

Tips & Serving Suggestions

In my Kari Ayam recipe, the inclusion of fresh curry leaves and star anise mirror of the versions I ate in Malaysia and it's a clever way to enhance the flavour even more. You can also add a stalk of lightly bashed lemongrass, a cinnamon stick or a few cardamom pods to inject a little more flavour.

Potatoes are a great way to add a combination of textures to this curry. I often enjoy this dish with other vegetables too - sometimes adding Green Beans or Asian Snake Beans to the sauce and on occasion replacing regular potatoes with cauliflower or sweet potato.

In my opinion, Kari Ayam is best served with buttery and flaky Malaysian roti canai bread or paratha - you can find them from any good Asian/Indian supermarket in the frozen section (you CAN make them at home - but they're pretty tricky so best left to 400 yr old Malaysian grandmothers in my opinion. They're fried for a couple of minutes and puff up into flaky flatbreads. Fluffy Jasmine rice is also a winner.

More Delicious Malaysian Recipes

If like me, you become OBSESSED with Malaysian food, you'll want to discover more. Try out some of my other tasty Malaysian recipes.

How to make Malaysian Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam)

Malaysian Chicken Curry

Malaysian Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam)

Rate this recipe

4.58 from 7 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine Malaysian
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 826

Video Recipe


  • 1 kg chicken thighs (cut into chunks)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 stem of fresh curry leaves
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 tbsp Store bought Malaysian Curry Powder OR 4 tbsp homemade curry powder (link in notes)
  • 1 400g can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 potatoes (medium/small) (cut into 1/4s) - optional


  • In a wok over a moderate high heat, add the oil and when hot, throw in the curry leaves and star anise. Let them sizzle briefly before adding the chicken.
  • Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes to brown a little before adding the curry powder. Stir well to coat the chicken before pouring in the coconut milk and about 400-500 ml of water, until the chicken is all submerged and the sauce thin. Stir in the salt.
  • Bring to a boil, then if using, add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes. The sauce should have reduced to a creamy consistency, but if not, just turn up the heat and reduce until it does!


To make your own curry powder follow my Malaysian curry powder recipe 


Calories: 826kcal (41%) | Carbohydrates: 7g (2%) | Protein: 44g (88%) | Fat: 71g (109%) | Saturated Fat: 36g (225%) | Cholesterol: 245mg (82%) | Sodium: 1079mg (47%) | Potassium: 793mg (23%) | Fiber: 2g (8%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 792IU (16%) | Vitamin C: 302mg (366%) | Calcium: 121mg (12%) | Iron: 6mg (33%)
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Malaysian Chicken Curry

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