theboywhoatetheworld cooks: Devil’s Curry Chicken

This fiery, red chicken curry hails from the southern Malaysian state of Malacca. The eponymous ‘Devil’ comes in the form of its distinct red colour and spiciness! A historic, prominent trading port in Southeast Asia, Malacca was once colonised by Portugal in the early 16th century. Some of the Portuguese eventually settled down permanently, marrying into local Malaysian and Nyonya families. This soon resulted in a growing community of Eurasians (known locally as Kristangs) whose food heritage and descendents can be traced up till today.

This dish fuses western-influenced ingredients like mustard seeds and potatoes with a fiery curry paste that’s bursting with red chillies and other Southeast Asian spices. What really distinguishes Devil’s Curry from other curries however is the use of white vinegar in the dish which gives it a tart, tantalising flavour that will add fuel to the fire! Go easy on the chillies if you like your curries milder.

Devils Curry 2

Devil’s Curry Chicken

Ingredients (serves 4 people as a shared main course)

  • 1 kg chicken pieces (thighs & drumsticks work best)
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 medium onion (150g) – finely sliced
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 400g waxy potatoes (for boiling) – skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 350ml water

For the blended curry paste (“rempah”):

  • 2 stalks lemongrass (40g) – roughly chopped
  • 5 cm length ginger (15g) – roughly chopped
  • 5 cm length galangal – roughly chopped
  • 1 cm fresh turmeric (5g) – roughly chopped
  • 25 – 30 dried chillies (25 – 30g) – soaked and deseeded
  • 8 – 10 shallots (200g) – halved
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree


  • 2 – 3 tbsp white vinegar (to taste)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp light brown sugar (to taste)
  • Large pinch of salt (to taste)


  • 2 – 3 coriander sprigs – leaves picked
  • 1 red chilli – finely sliced


  1. Prepare and blend all the curry-paste (rempah) ingredients in a food processor until it forms a smooth paste.
  1. Heat up oil in a saucepan. Fry the mustard seeds and onions for 3 – 4 minutes over a medium heat. Add the blended rempah and sauté for 8 – 10 minutes until fragrant.
  1. Add the chicken pieces and curry leaves to the rempah and fry for 1 – 2 minutes until the meat is lightly browned. Add 350ml of water to form a gravy and simmer the chicken for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes to the curry gravy and continue to simmer for around 15 minutes until the chicken and potatoes are both fully cooked through.
  1. Season with salt, brown sugar and white vinegar to taste. Serve the curry with steamed rice and garnish with some sliced chillies and coriander leaves.