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Chicken Kurma (Malaysian Style)

I went grocery shopping and guess what was on sale? Chicken Kurma spice mix! These spice packs are not even expensive (RM0.50-RM1.50) but due to the prolonged lockdown and time away from malls, this is as exciting as shopping gets for me.

Not to be confused with the popular Indian Chicken Korma prepared with yoghurt, Chicken Kurma or Kurma Ayam is a classic Malay dish you can easily find at Nasi Campur (economy rice) stalls in Malaysia. This aromatic dish does not feature any chilli powder so it's not spicy at all and is uniquely brown in colour. Some would prefer the gravy to be quite thin but I like it creamy & luscious! I'd suggest preparing this dish in advance (a day before if possible) as the flavours develop better over time.


Chicken Kurma /Kurma Ayam (Malaysian Style)

Difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Serves: 3-4 pax

Cook & Prep Time: 60minutes


  • 3/4 of a whole chicken (roughly 1-1.5kg)

  • 3x 25g Kurma spice pack *I used Baba's. If you're using another brand or buying from a local market, adjust the amount according to their suggested cooking directions.

  • 2 teaspoons of Assam Jawa (tamarind) paste

  • 100ml Coconut milk

  • 2 onions

  • 6 cloves of garlic

  • 1 knob of ginger

  • Assorted spices (cardamon pods, cloves, star anise & cinnamon)

  • 15-20 almonds

  • 2 potatoes

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 tomato

  • 2 chillies (green or red)

  • 1 stalk coriander

  • 1 stalk spring onion

  • 1-2 cups of cooking oil

  • 0.5-1 litre of water

  • Salt to taste

You may use a work or a pot as long as there's a cover.

Ingredients for Kurma Chicken
It's quite a long list of ingredients but trust me, the hassle will be well worth it!

Cooking Directions : 1. Peel the garlic, ginger and onions. Cut onions into quarters.

2. Wash and cut the spring onion and coriander into shorter pieces for easier blending.

3. Blend these ingredients separately. *Note that only one onion is blended and the other is reserved for cooking.

Ingredients to blend
Blend these separately into a very fine paste or leave the almonds slightly coarse if you prefer

4. Peel the potatoes & carrots. Cut into large chunks.

5. Slice the chillies in half lengthwise and slice the tomatoes into 4-8 pieces depending on your preference.

Prepared ingredients for Kurma Chicken
Prepped ingredients looking colourful before it all turns into a pot of brown

7. Heat 1 cup of oil and saute the blended ingredients (a) and assorted spices until fragrant. Use low heat and stir frequently to avoid burning.

Saute spices and blended ingredients
Low heat and stir, stir, stir!

8. Stir in the Kurma spice mix and add more oil if too dry.

Kurma spice mix in oil
I definitely needed another cup of oil

9. Stir in blended ingredients (b) and continue stirring until fragrant. Again, add more oil if it's dry, you should have a relatively wet & pasty mixture.

Blended almonds, cilantro and spring onion.
The aroma of this mixture is quite heavenly!

10. Stir in chicken and add water until the chicken is partially covered, I used around 700 ml.

Chicken Kurma simmering
Add more water if you prefer your Kurma gravy to be lighter

11. Stir in carrots, potatoes, and 2 teaspoons of tamarind paste. Cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring intermittently to prevent burning. Cook longer if necessary until potatoes & carrots are soft.

Chicken kurma simmering
Ready to be simmered! Be sure to stir every 5-10minutes to prevent burning.

12. Add coconut milk, tomatoes, chillies and onions. Adjust the amount of coconut milk to your preference.

13. Simmer for another 1-2 minutes and add salt to taste. Ready to serve!

The chicken was perfectly tender since it's simmered the whole way through and the tartness of the tamarind paste & tomatoes cuts the richness of the gravy. Make sure to enjoy with piping hot white rice!

While it's not the easiest dish to prepare, you can always cook a huge batch and enjoy it over the week - the flavours really get much better over time! If you like, do add veggies (tomatoes, chillies & cilantro) when you reheat the dish to add some freshness.

Till the next cook, stay safe & makan well!

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