Ayam Kapitan (Captain’s curry)

Ayam Kapitan (Captain’s curry)

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(2 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 2 hrs plus marinating

More effort

Serves 8
This moreish and authentic Malaysian chicken curry combines tangy tamarind and creamy coconut milk for a real depth of flavour

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal709
  • fat55g
  • saturates19g
  • carbs20g
  • sugars15g
  • fibre2g
  • protein33g
  • salt2.5g
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  • 2 tbsp turmeric



    Turmeric is a fragrant, bright golden-yellow root that is most commonly seen and used dried and…

  • 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)
    Coconut milk in a glass, with half a coconut

    Coconut milk

    ko-ko-nut mill-k

    Coconut milk is not the slightly opaque liquid that flows from a freshly opened coconut –…

  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
  • 4 limes leaves



    The same shape, but smaller than…

  • 2 tbsp chicken stock powder
  • 2 tbsp white caster sugar
  • 85g tamarind paste

For the spice paste

  • 40 small dried chillies, seeds removed



    Part of the capsicum family, chillies come in scores of varieties and colours (from green…

  • 50g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 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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Comments, questions and tips

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22nd Aug, 2017
I did exactly as amyboy1 did . Everything about the recipe seems right but 40 small red chillies! Really? I used just 8 of the Thai variety (locally sourced so I knew they'd be hot). That was more than enough for me. I might be a little chilli sensitive but even so I can't help thinking that 40 must be a misprint.
27th Nov, 2014
This was so yummy and fairly easy to make! I used extra ginger in place of galangal and ground almonds in place of the macadamia! Really delicious, can't fault this recipe.
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