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Singapore style chicken curry


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I had a chicken curry for breakfast several days in a row at the original Killiney's Kopitiam - it was one of the tastiest things I had on that trip, which is saying something.  When I got home, I tried to recreate it many times but could never get it right.  But I think I did it last time.... even if it's not an exact recreation (I haven't had the real thing in 2 or 3 years), it was really tasty.


While I've never written a recipe in RecipeGullet before, I have written recipes down for myself - mostly notes of quantities of ingredients....  this one is difficult for me because I didn't really measure anything while making it - so the quantities are going to be REALLY imprecise - to tell the truth though, I don't think exact quantities matter all that much in this case.


Makes 4 meals for 2 people each - I cook the rempah and make the curry itself in one large batch since it's a bit of work, then portion and freeze.  While it's not typical, it makes fast and convenient meals for us during the week when we don't have that much time.  Because I don't like to freeze and reheat meat, I'll make the curry with everything except the chicken in advance and freeze, then I'll defrost one batch in a pot - once simmering, I'll add the chicken.



about 10 shallots, peeled, chopped very roughly

about 10 cloves of garlic (a little less than a head), peeled, chopped roughly

about a 6" piece (or bunch of pieces adding to it) fresh turmeric, peeled, chopped roughly

about 5T belacan (dried fermented shrimp paste)

6-8 dried puya chiles, destemmed and seeded, chopped roughly (or snipped with scissors), then rehydrated and drained

4-5 dried thai chiles, destemmed and seeded, chopped roughly (or snipped with scissors), then rehydrated and drained

a large handful (how do you like THAT for a measurement!?!) ground coriander

a small handful ground cumin

a small handful ground fennel

3/4C grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)


2 stems curry leaves, stemmed

1 3" stick of true cinnamon (not cassia)

2 star anise

3 cloves

2-3T coconut cream



8 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and par boiled

4C coconut milk

about 1T salt

about 1T sugar


Chicken (for one meal for 2):

4 chicken thighs (we usually only get the thighs as my wife is not too fond of the legs, and it's a lot juicier than white meat)


1/2C water (optional depending on thickness of coconut milk used - the curry shouldn't be thick, but more viscous than water)



1) Traditionally, you would pound the first set of rempah ingredients (without the oil) in a mortar/pestle until a smooth paste - but I don't have the time for that... so I use a blender - the results may not be as good, but it works pretty well.  To do this, add all the top section rempah ingredients to a blender jar in order.  Blend until smooth.


2) In a deep pot over medium heat, add the rempah paste plus the second set of rempah ingredients and fry until the oil separates out and the paste moves around in a more or less solid mass. You need to constantly stir and scrape to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom.  If you made the paste with mortar/pestle, add oil to the pot first, then add paste when hot.  When it's done, it should look like this:



3) Add the potatoes, coconut milk, salt and sugar, and simmer for a few minutes


4) Chill, dividing evenly into 4 portions; refrigerate overnight, and then freeze for later.


5) To make the complete meal, add one frozen portion to a 4 qt saucepan and add 1/2C water (if needed to adjust consistency) - cover and cook over medium heat until simmering.


6) Meanwhile, salt the chicken and let sit until curry is simmering


7) Add chicken to curry and make sure the meat is submerged. Cover, and simmer for about 8 minutes.  At this point the chicken should be mostly cooked through - if so, turn off the heat and leave covered for another 5 min. or so while prepping vegetables etc.


8) Eat with french bread to dip into the curry, or Singapore style roti prata.

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 Thank you so much. That obviously took work on your part to put it into the recipe database. 


 Edited to add:

Sourcing some of these ingredients might prove challenging. :)

Edited by Anna N (log)
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

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ha! I think it took almost as long to write down the recipe (albeit interrupted a few times) as it did to make!  Yes, sourcing some ingredients like fresh curry leaves or fresh turmeric can be challenging for some, depending on location.  However, I would say that this is actually one of the easier-to-source curries that I make.  The one that uses fresh lemongrass (while not hard to find, it's hard to find good quality ones around here) and fresh galangal is the worst!


If you have trouble sourcing the dried chiles, I think you can make a few substitutions... the dried thai chiles should not be that hard to find... the puyas can be replaced by any red, mildly spicy,  thick fleshed chili - just look for somethign that's 4-5" long and maybe 1 to 1.5" wide and a deep red/maroon color... 


I could be pretty sure that they're not using puya chiles in Singapore - but that's what I can get locally to replace what they are using.

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  • 4 months later...

ETA - next time I may omit the curry leaves.  While I love the flavor and complexity they impart, I don't think they're typical in the "authentic" dish...

Edited by KennethT (log)
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  • 2 years later...

ETA - I've changed my recipe a bit since this original post... I like this version a lot better and it's healthier as well.  The rempah stays the same, but I add about an inch of galangal and a few kaffir lime leaves and don't add the coconut cream.  Also, I just add some water to help it blend - I don't use the 3/4C grapeseed oil anymore.  I add a few glugs of grapeseed oil that I preheat before adding the paste and frying.  The oil quickly integrates into the paste but separates out again, which is when you know the paste is done.  Also, to save freezer space, I don't add any liquid before freezing the individual portions - I just cool the paste, portion it out and freeze.  When it's time to cook, I'll take 1C of my homemade chicken stock in a saucepan large enough to contain the chicken, add the frozen paste and bring to a simmer (covered) to defrost.  After a few minutes, I'll just take a whisk or spoon and integrate the paste into the stock.  Bring to a boil, season with salt/sugar/MSG (Makes Stuff taste Great), add the chicken, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.  Once done, I'll add 1/2C coconut milk, bring back to a simmer, taste for seasoning and done.  It's a lot healthier and just as tasty, if not tastier - I find that cooking the coconut milk for long periods of time make it lose that freshness that makes coconut milk so tasty!


Also, I'm going to add what I do for the prata here since it's hard to find it hiding amongst the Dinner 2000 thread posts...


For the prata, it's actually a relatively lean dough. From research I've done, it seems like the flour all the prata guys in Singapore use have 10.8% protein, which I can't find here.  So for 8 pratas (4 meals of 2 to go along with the curry) it should be 600g flour with approx 10.8% protein. I made this using 118g 7% protein cake flour and 482g of 11.7% KAF all purpose. To this about 1t salt, 1T sugar, 15ml grapeseed oil, 300ml water and 1 egg. Mixed by hand and let sit covered for about an hour or so. After that, I could actually knead it without using any extra flour. I kneaded it in several sessions of about 5 minutes each, separated by 20 min of rest. Divided into 8 balls, rolled in grapeseed oil, then sit in ramekins covered for a few hours. Then sit in the fridge overnight. Then I freeze 6 and stretched 2 a few minutes before the chicken was finished. Cooked until brown on both sides on a med-high pan with a bit of grapeseed oil. I think the key is lots of kneading interspersed with lots of rest to relax the gluten. It's really stretchy - it springs back like a rubber band.  To use the frozen ones, the day I'm making the curry, I'll take them out of the freezer and leave on the countertop all day to defrost and relax.


To stretch, take a large section of clean countertop and spread a thin layer of grapeseed oil and oil your hands.  Take a dough ball and flatten into a disk, then, working around in a circle, lift and stretch the edge away from the center and press down on the countertop.  If your countertop has too much oil it will slide, but if just a bit, it should stay there.  Keep going around until you can see the countertop through the dough - it doesn't matter if a couple of holes tear into it as long as you can stretch it really thin. It should be about 2 feet in diameter (roughly). Then spread a little more grapeseed oil on the top surface and roll it into a snake, then coil the snake into a disk tucking the last end underneath.  Cover and let sit and rest for a while.  When ready to cook, press the disk as flat as you can and fry on a medium high heat in a bit more grapeseed oil.  At this point, it's really stretchy, so when you press the disk flat, it comes back to almost its original thickness, so when it hits the hot pan, I'll press it flatter with a spatula.  When just browned, flip it and do the same thing.  When done, transfer to a clean countertop or board and with a quick motion with your hands, clap the edges towards the center a couple times, which should help separate the layers a bit.

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  • 2 years later...

Sadly I had to go to Singapore 3 times before even trying this....but fell in love for my other 8 trips had it for breakfast nearly every day. Sadly it's been more than 10 years since I was in Singapore :(.  I've made my own rendition a few times with store bought roti prada (costco) and really enjoyed it, but will definitely make this.  In order to have something to follow in the kitchen I typed it up in the format I use, but I have a couple questions I'd love to have you clarify if possible. 

1 - handful of ground coriander (or small handful of ground cumin)...I am 6'7".  A handful to me is around 3Tbsp.  Figure I am not normal though and want to make sure I am in the ball park

2 - in reading your changes, I couldn't tell if you added the potatoes before freezing...I sort of figured it wouldn't matter since they are par cooked and chose to add them with the chicken to really just have a rempah in the freezer

3 - Did I read the portioning right?  ie, 16 thighs for the whole rempah?

4 - When you pull the prata dough out from the fridge how long do you let it rest before stretching?

5 - Most important one yet, is there a belacan you recommend?  When I read 5 Tbsp I was contemplating my Thai paste and thought that was a typo as it would dominate.  Would love to know what you use.


Here are my typed up versions...if you answer the above I will update them.  Hopefully I am not breaking any rules on the forum or offending you Kenneth by typing this up.  I am SUPER excited to try it.




Edited by Deephaven
updated the Curry recipe based on KennethT's response (log)
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@Deephaven I'm excited for you to try it - I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  To clarify, I don't divide and then freeze the rempah until after frying it.  Once it's fried, it keeps well, but I don't think it would do well if frozen in its raw state.  Frying the rempah takes time, so by doing it all together and then dividing, the curry is ready to go much faster.  Also, nowadays, I don't bother parcooking the potatoes.  Now, I just add them at the same time as I add the chicken and they wind up being done around the same time.  Yes, the total rempah would be for 16 chicken thighs.  As far as the size of the handfuls, hmmm....  I'd say the coriander powder would be 3-4 Tablespoons or so.  For the cumin and fennel powders, maybe 2-2.5 Tablespoons.  Also, now I think I'd add both the curry leaves and maybe 6-8 kaffir lime leaves.


The belacan I use is the  Malaysian style, which is different from the Thai style.  The Malaysian type is much more dense - rather than coming in a scoopable tub, it is sold in a brick that you can take slices from.  In Malaysia/Indonesia, it's common to toast the belacan before using it - it makes it a bit milder but if you're frying the paste for a good amount of time, I don't know if it's really necessary.  For this recipe I don't toast it.  Maybe one day I'll try it that way to see what the difference would be.  This is a common brand I use: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X95VKXO?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details  It's a lot cheaper if I buy it locally in Chinatown.


Finally, I'm not very happy with my prata recipe.  I've been doing a lot of prata research lately (or similarly, roti canai research as it's more common).  Most recipes use a couple tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk.  I'm trying to avoid it since I never use it otherwise, and to buy a whole can of it for a couple tablespoons seems like a waste.  Also, most videos I watch now have the dough made, then wait half an hour, then kneaded and divided, then grease the balls and let rest for like 12 hours (not refrigerated).  Many in Malaysia use margarine for the greasing but I'd probably use some kind of oil.  Many of the grandmas and aunties who have YouTube videos say that they make the dough in the evening so it's ready to stretch in time for breakfast the next day.


I was actually planning on making more prata this weekend, but realized that I didn't have enough flour.  I should be able to try it again next weekend.


Let me know if you have any more questions...

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/25/2023 at 2:05 PM, Deephaven said:

Thank you!!  I updated my typed version above, ordered some shrimp paste, and am excited to try it!

Did you have a chance to try it? I'm curious what you think of it.

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On 10/24/2023 at 5:42 AM, shesmfoody said:

Wow! This looks so different than the usual chicken curry, but I think it's delicious. I'm excited to try this. Thanks for sharing!

I'm interested to know what you think is a "usual chicken curry".  There's so many regional curries that vary greatly within a single country like Malaysia or Indonesia or India or Thailand, without even talking about the huge differences just from country to country.

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19 hours ago, KennethT said:

Did you have a chance to try it? I'm curious what you think of it.

I haven't yet.  I've been on a whirlwind of travel for work.  Trying to get it all done before we move out of our house in 6 weeks for a complete remodel.  Finally getting the new kitchen stuff that brought me here.  I see the shrimp paste nearly daily while home though so I will.  Hoping this week, but preparing for a trip to Germany next Saturday(where I pick up my Falk pans) so it may slip another couple.  Don't take that as less exuberance for what you shared though.  My whole family is excited!

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