Padang Chicken Curry

Origin: Padang – West Sumatra


  • 1 kg chicken thighs or whole chicken cut in 4 parts
  • 1 stick cinnamon stick (replace with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon if not available)
  • 1 stem lemon grass, outer leaves discarded, cut in two, bruised
  • 2 cm galangale, bruised
  • 3 pc cardamom seeds, cracked
  • 2 gloves garlic
  • ¼ pc nutmeg, cracked or replace with 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg if not available
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp soak in 3 tbsp warm water
  • 5 pc kaffir-lime leaves, discard the ribs of the leaves
  • ½ pc turmeric leaf, raughly cut (skip if not available)
  • 1000 ml thick coconut milk
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oi

Spices for the paste

  • 7 pc large red chillies, (de-seeded), chopped
  • 7 pc shallots, chopped
  • 3 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cm fresh ginger
  • 4 cm turmeric or 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp coriander or 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground aniseed
  • ½ tsp pepper or 1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Padang Chicken Curry

Gulai Ayam Padang or Padangnese Chicken Curry is one of the famous recipes from Minangkabau kitchen besides Rendang. This dish is always available in every padangnese restaurant or well-known as "Rumah Makan Padang".
Eventhough the name is Gulai, a term used for Indonesian "light curry", this dish is actually a real curry! Just a short reminder, a curry is a dish which contains 5 unique spices, namely: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander and cumin.
Indonesian curry is an adaptation of indian culinary art which's introduced by merchandiser to the indonesian archipelago hundred years back, especially in the coastal areas of Aceh, East and West coast of Sumatra and South Kalimantan and now becomes a part of indonesian culinary style even favourite dish in the above mentioned regions.
There are also variant of Padang's light curry or gulai for example Gulai Gajebo and Gulai Daun Singkong / Cassava Leaves Curry. Making Padang Chicken Curry is actually quite easy, the thing is you have to be prepared to shop and hunt for a long list of spices and ingredients. Some of them are quite unique and exotic spices as they are not commonly used for daily basic recipes, even for majority indonesians. But I assure you, your efforts will be paid off, especially for those of you who are curry lovers 😉


  • Prepare all the ingredients for the paste: chilis, shallots, garlics, ginger, turmeric & candlenut. Peel-off and cut in smaller pieces if necessary.
  • Put all the ingredients for the paste into a blender or wet grinder and add the ground spices.
  • Add a little bit oil if necessary to help the blending process and blend into a smooth paste.
  • Blend into a smooth paste.
  • Heat 3 tbsp used oil in a wok or shallow pan. (Add a bit oil if already added during a blending process). Saute the paste with lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves & galangal over medium heat until well cooked & fragrant. Stir continuously to prevent burning. (approx. 3 to 5 minutes)
  • The paste is done when the colour is getting darker & the paste becomes scrambled. Ensure the paste is well done/well cooked because this is the important key to obtain the best taste.
  • Add the chicken, stir to mix and cook until the chicken becomes harder and it's colour turns to white. If necessary pierce the chicken with a fork for the marinade to seep into the chicken.
  • Marinade the chicken.
  • Add coconut milk and stir to mix.
  • Add the tamarind water. Stir to mix.
  • Crack or break the nutmeg (if used) & cardamoms seeds.
  • Add nutmeg, cinnamon stick, cardamoms and cloves.
  • Cover the pan, cook over medium heat (scale 6 of 9) for about 30-40 minutes until the chicken becomes tender. Stir occasionally to prevent coconut milk from separating/non homogeneous mixture.
  • Don't cook over high heat, especially if you are using broilers. Cooking over high heat and long periode makes the chicken become stiff and chewy.
  • Adjust the seasoning, add the salt and sugar to taste if necessary.
  • Serve hot with rice or Roti Jala
Keyword chicken, cinnamon, coconut milk, curry, galangale, nutmeg, Padang, red chillies

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