Monday, 13 September 2010

Kari Ayam (chicken curry)

There must be at least a gazillion types of curry (kari) in the world, so another one won't go amiss. This one is very mild and 'wet' - there's no thickening used. Without the chilli, our young grandkids love it. We introduce a yummy new ingredient too - coconut milk. Cooking time is about 30-40 minutes and the quantities below will easily feed four people. Or Mr K when he's dieting.

Note that you can use any kind of fresh or frozen chicken - we used four frozen chicken thighs, defrosting them and taking the meat off the bone (taste tip: Mrs K then boiled up the thigh bones for about 20 minutes, strained off the water and used it to boil the rice in).


  • 250g chicken meat
  • Half an aubergine
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 leek (yes, a leek)
  • 6 pieces of okra (also called Lady's Fingers or bhindi)
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 stick of lemon grass
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Half teaspoon ginger paste (or 1 inch of root ginger, chopped finely)
  • Half teaspoon turmeric
  • Quarter teaspoon chilli powder (more or less as you wish - this amount will give a very mild curry)
  • Half teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Half teaspoon salt
  • Sunflower oil
  • 1 tin (250ml) coconut milk (or 3 dessert spoons instant coconut milk)

Coconut milk is widely used in Indonesian curries and stews, and luckily it's now easy to buy in most supermarkets - look in the Chinese section. It's normally sold in tins, something Mrs K loves, after years of laboriously making it from scratch using fresh coconuts (if you don't believe me, buy a coconut, grate the flesh and see how much liquid you can squeeze out of it). But even better, some Tesco stores sell Maggi brand powdered coconut milk (pictured), which Mrs K now swears by as it's cheaper and less wasteful. One £3 packet makes about enough milk to fill the Mediterranean.


Coarsely chop the shallots, spring onions and garlic. Chop the tomato into eight pieces, the potato, leek, okra and aubergine into roughly half-inch chunks (see pic below for an idea of sizes). Cut the onion very coarsely. Dice the chicken into small pieces as shown.

In a large frying pan, gently fry the shallots in a little sunflower oil until they're soft and just starting to yellow a little. Add the garlic and stir fry it for half a minute or so. Mix in all the dry spices - cumin, turmeric, coriander, ginger, bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass, stirring until they're all blended in nicely, which should only take around 20-30 seconds.

Now put in the tomatoes and onions, mix in and add half a mug of hot water. Bring to the boil before adding the chicken and mixing it in well so it is covered with the sauce. Give it few seconds before adding the aubergine, leek and okra. Dissolve the chicken stock cube in half a mug of hot water and add it to the pan. Finally put in the spring onions, mix in and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop any burning.

If you've followed Mrs K, the pan will now be close to overflowing, so use a bigger one next time. Mrs K always prepares the sauce in a frying pan first as she prefers it to a saucepan - the only disadvantage (as you can see in the video) is that she has to transfer the curry to a large saucepan before adding the coconut milk. Do it how you prefer, it's not important.

Add the coconut milk (if using powder, mix it first with warm water), add the salt and sugar, bring to the boil and then simmer for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with boiled rice (or mashed potato if you fancy a change) and, optionally, some krupuk.


  1. I absolutely love this food blog. It's beautifully written, easy to follow, uses ingredients that are widely available and reasonably priced. I am going to try one of these recipes at the weekend. Mrs K, I'll let you know how I get on. Please post your phone number in case I get stuck!

  2. Thank you! I'm afraid Mrs K is ex-directory, though :-) But you can always tweet Mr K (if he's awake, that is...)

  3. Superb !
    This is just how my grandmother used to cook.
    She was also from Java, and it gives me good memories, when i taste this delicious food !
    It's very easy to understand, and with the video, nothing can go wrong, even for a foreigner(Dutch) like me.
    I also have some suggestions of dishes, that i'm sure would taste delicious, if cooked by Mrs K
    Those are : - Lontong
    - Rendang
    - Sambal Goreng Tempeh
    - Babi Kecap

    These where my favorite dishes when my grandmother made them.
    She had the same style of cooking, using the same herbs.

    keep up the good work !

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments and suggestions, glad you enjoyed the recipe! And apologies for not posting any new ones for a long time!