Masterchef Adam Liaw’s Malaysian Chicken Curry (Gulai Ayam)

© Adam Liaw


Wet Paste (Rempah)

10 dried red chillies (seeded and soaked in hot water)

10 red shallots (peeled and sliced)

5 cloves garlic

1 inch each ginger, galangal and turmeric (peeled and sliced)

5 candlenuts (use macadamias if you can’t find)

1 tsp belacan/Malaysian shrimp paste (roasted in aluminium foil until fragrant)

Dry Ground Spices

1 tbsp coriander seed

1 tbsp cumin seed

1 tbsp fennel seed

Dry Whole Spices

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

½ tsp cloves

¼ cup peanut oil

1 whole 1.5kg chicken, jointed

1 handful curry leaves

250g potatoes (washed, peeled and cut into large pieces)

300ml coconut cream

100ml water

1 tsp salt


1. In a food process or mortar, process or pound the wet paste ingredients to a smooth paste and set aside. Dry toast and grind the ground spices.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Fry the paste for a few minutes until fragrant and then add the whole and ground spices. Fry for another few minutes and then add the chicken thigh, wing and drumstick pieces and the potato and toss to coat in the spice paste. Add in the coconut cream, water, salt and curry leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered.

3. After 10 minutes add the breast pieces and cook for a further 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.

4. Adjust the seasoning of the dish (adding a little sugar for sweetness if necessary), cover and allow it to stand for a few hours to cool and to allow the flavours to develop. Reheat to serve.