Ayam Kapitan (Captain’s curry)

This moreish and authentic Malaysian chicken curry combines tangy tamarind and creamy coconut milk for a real depth of flavour

  • Prep:30 mins
    Cook:2 hrs
    plus marinating
  • Serves 8
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 709
  • fat 55g
  • saturates 19g
  • carbs 20g
  • sugars 15g
  • fibre 2g
  • protein 33g
  • salt 2.5g


  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • 8 chicken legs, on the bone and skin on, cut into thighs and drumsticks
  • 225ml vegetable oil
  • 500ml thick coconut milk (this must be full-fat)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
  • 4 limes leaves
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock powder
  • 2 tbsp white caster sugar
  • 85g tamarind paste
  • 40 small dried chillies, seeds removed
  • 50g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 50g galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, tender part only
  • 350g Thai or regular shallots, roughly chopped
  • 25g candlenuts or macadamia nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Mix the turmeric, salt and 3 tbsp water in a large non-metallic dish, then add the chicken pieces. Rub all over the chicken, cover and chill overnight, or leave at room temperature for 30 mins.

  2. Meanwhile, make the spice paste. Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 20 mins until soft. Drain, then mix the chillies and other ingredients together in a processor or blender until smooth.

  3. Heat the oil in a deep wok or large, heavy-based saucepan. Fry the chicken in batches for 5 mins until golden, turning halfway through. Drain the chicken on kitchen paper. Carefully remove half of the oil to a heatproof container, then add the spice paste to the remaining oil in the wok.

  4. Fry the paste for 5 mins, then return the chicken to the pan, followed by the coconut milk, lemongrass and lime leaves. Cook for a further 5 mins, then stir in the stock powder, sugar and tamarind paste. Simmer gently for 1 hr 30 mins-1 hr 40 mins until the chicken is falling off the bones.

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