Penang Chicken Curry

Penang Chicken Curry doesn't look special under its mound of fried onions, but the smell really is special and the taste is out of this world.


serves 4
1 1/2 kg (3 lb) fresh chicken, divided into 8 pieces
225 g (8 oz) dessiccated coconut
just over 450 ml (3/4 pt) boiling water
10 g (1 tbsp) tamarind, pulp or dried
150 ml (1/4 pt) water
5 g (1 tsp) yeast extract
2 - 4 fresh chillies or 1 - 2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 macadamia nuts or almonds
2 stems lemongrass
2.5 cm (1 in) piece fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
4 - 8 g (1 - 2 tsp) ground turmeric
60 ml (4 tbsp) coconut or cooking oil
piece cinnamon
6 green or white cardamom pods, bruised but left whole
2 large onions, finely sliced and deep fried or a handful of chopped coriander to garnish


1. Wipe the chicken and set aside.

2. Make coconut milk by pouring the boiling water over the dessiccated coconut, leaving it to stand for 15 minutes, then squeezing out the liquid.

3. Soak the tarmarind in the water for 10 minutes, squeeze out, and reserve the juice.

4. Pound the prepared and chopped chillies, nuts, lemongrass, ginger and garlic into a paste with the yeast extract; if using dried chilli, add it to the paste. Stir in the turmeric.

5. Heat the oil and fry the spice mixture for a few minutes without browning.

6. Stir in the chicken pieces until they are all coated with the spices. Add salt.

7. Pour in the coconut milk and tamarind juice.

8. Add the cinnamon and cardomom pods.

9. Cook uncovered over a gentle heat for 35 - 45 minutes until almost all the sauce has cooked away.

10. Taste for salt. Test the chicken pieces with a skewer.

11. When tender, serve in a hot bowl.

12. This is traditionally served with a topping of crispy fried onions, but you may prefer to use chopped coriander instead.

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