There are many variations of Chicken Curry; Indian, Malay, Nyonya, Hainanese, Chinese bla bla bla. This curry that I’m gonna write about today is something you will find in Singapore and Malaysia, and it is pretty common! You will find them in Hawker Centers, Food Courts, Coffeeshops, Restaurants etc. The premixes and pastes are also readily available in Singapore and Malaysia. 

However, today… I’m gonna teach you how to do one from scratch! And you can make batches of these spice paste and freeze them. I would recommend fresh spices or otherwise you could substitute with already grinded powders (but you might need to adjust a little to increase the taste).

Ingredients (Spice Paste)

  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds (substitute: Cumin Powder)
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds (substitute: Fennel Powder)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick; 2cm – 3cm (substitute 1 tsp Cinnamon Powder) 
  • 4 Candlenuts (substitute: Macademia Nuts)
  • 11 Shallots; peeled 
  • 3 cloves Garlic; peeled
  • 1-4 dried Red Chilli; deseeded and soaked (substitute: 1-4 tsp dried Red Chilli Pepper/Chilli Powder/Cayenne depending on how much heat you want)
  • 1 fresh Chilli Padi (if you desire even more heat)
  • 20g Fresh Ginger
  • 3 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 2 tsp Paprika Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Tumeric Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg Powder
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

Ingredients (Dish)

  • 1.8lbs of bone in Chicken or 1.2lbs Chicken Thigh Meat/Breast Meat
  • 400ml Coconut Milk
  • 200ml Water (Half and half or fully substitute with Coconut Milk if you like it thicker)
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass (white parts); cut and bruised
  • 1 tsp Salt or to taste
  • 3 Potatoes, quartered


  1. Dry toast Cumin seeds, Fennel seeds and Cinnamon stick in a skillet/pan over low heat till fragrant, 1-2 mins. If using powder, I would still prefer to dry toast it to bring out its fragrance. 
  2. In a blender, add the Candlenuts/Macademia nuts, Shallots, Chilli, Garlic, Ginger and dry toasted spices. Blend over low speed into a paste. 
  3. Scoop out from the blender and mix in the Coriander, Paprika, Nutmeg and Tumeric powder. Do not do it in the blender, the Tumeric gonna stain your blender badly. Mix well.
  4. Heat oil in the pan/IP over medium heat. If using IP, use the sauté normal mode and always wait for ‘HOT’. Yes, feel free to use coconut oil. Stir fry the spice blend 4-5 mins. At this step, you can continue to use it to make curry or cool it completely and freeze it in a Ziploc bag or freezer storage box.
  5. Coat chicken with the spice paste and it sit for 10 mins. For IP, see steps 6-8. For stovetop, skip to step 9.
  6. If using the IP, add Water (1/2 cup needed at minimum), Lemongrass, Salt and Potatoes. 
  7. If doing Pot-in-Pot, put a tall trivet over the meat and sit your white rice on it (1:1). Yes, you can knot a Pandan/Screwpine leaf and throw it in and substitute the water with partial/full coconut milk with a pinch of salt. But white rice is really good enough! 
  8. Set the IP to Manual, High Pressure and 5 mins (6 mins for Breast Meat). Add an additional 1-2 mins if using frozen chicken and frozen paste! Do a quick release. Press cancel and use saute low mode, add the coconut milk here! (it actually thickens better over slow heat.. pressure cooking somehow makes the gravy really thin)
  9. If doing over a stove top, simmer for 20-30 mins over low fire or till chicken is cooked and gravy has thickened.  
  10. Serve hot with white rice, coconut pandan rice or simply with sliced french loaves.