Ayam Kapitan, or Captain Chicken, is a deliciously thick Malaysian Peranakan or Nyonya curry. We love anything curry, but this is a particular favourite of ours. Just a whiff of the spice blend alone – with the lemongrass and lime leaves and chili and ginger and galangal and everything – can send us straight to South East Asian heaven. Seriously, aromatherapy for the hungry soul.
And while the recipe list is a mile long, this dish is super simple to make. All you need to know is how to work a blender. No fussy slicing, mincing or precise cutting… we promise. Just chop chop, blend and cook. Simple. We use a whole chicken chopped up, with some extra wings thrown in, only because we feel wings work so well in curry (and Darsh loves chicken wings) but you could also just use wings and drumsticks, or breast meat, if you like.
You can eat this with bread, rice or even as an accompaniment to Nasi Lemak, and as with curries everywhere, this chicken taste even better the next day. So make loads!
Now all aboard and let’s get cooking!
- 1 whole chicken, chopped + some extra wings
- 1/4 -1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 curry leaves
- Handful cilantro, rough chopped for garnish
- Kaffir lime leaves, for garnish
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 3 tbsp oil
- Spice paste: 8 fresh red chilies, rough chopped
- 7 dried chilies, soaked [reserve liquid for blending]
- 2 Kaffir lime leaves
- 4 lemongrass, white part rough chopped
- 15 shallots, halved
- 1 medium red onion, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Thumb-and-half-size ginger, rough chopped
- Thumb-size turmeric root, rough chopped [Be wary of getting yellow nails!]
- Thumb-size galangal, rough chopped
- Thumb-size belacan [shrimp paste], roasted
- 4 candlenuts, crushed
- 3 star anise
- 4 cardamon
- Curry leaves, stripped off one stalk
- Blend all the spice paste ingredients, using some of the dried chilies soaking liquid, until you get a fine paste.
- In a large pot, heat up oil over medium heat and saute the curry leaves for a couple of minutes.
- Add the spice paste and fry, stirring frequently, until aromatic and the oil rises slightly to the surface, about ten minutes.
- Add the chicken and stir for a minute until all the pieces are evenly coasted in the paste.
- Scatter in brown sugar, salt and pepper. Stir until the sugar has melted and everything is well combined.
- Add enough water to barely cover the chicken [add more water if you'd like more gravy at the end but we like ours thick] and stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. Leave to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and the gravy has thickened.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, before adding in 1/4 cup coconut milk. Taste again and add more coconut milk if necessary, to round out the spice.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and lime leaves before serving. Heaven.