Malaysian yellow chicken curry

Bursting with flavors of lemongrass, ginger and coconut, this northern Malaysian curry is a huge crowd pleaser. While it tastes exotic and complex, the ingredients are easy to find and the whole thing is pretty simple to make. The recipe comes from one of the best selling dishes at Tava Kitchen, a local restaurant group that’s hoping to introduce Southeast Asian flavors to the masses. Tava helped me adapt this one for the home cook and it was a huge success. Roasting the chicken makes for a way more flavorful dish. And while store bought yellow curry paste works just fine (we recommend using the Mae Ploy brand), making your own is a cinch — you can find my recipe here.



2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
¼ cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fish sauce
¼ cup yellow curry paste (if you like more spice, add more)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 13-ounce can coconut milk
1 small bunch cilantro

Rice or noodles (optional)


Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the chicken thighs on top. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  

Once the oven is heated, cook the chicken until no longer pink inside, 25 to 30 minutes. Then set underneath the broiler to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with foil and set aside.

While the chicken is cooking, make the curry sauce.

In a large sauce pan, heat the remaining oil on medium high until it starts to smoke. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until just brown, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and lemongrass and cook until the onion become translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in the fish sauce, curry paste and ¼ cup of water and cook until the paste starts to thin out.

Add in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by about a quarter, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the curry from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

In a blender, puree the curry on high until mostly smooth. If there are several rough bits of lemongrass, press the curry through a strainer. (Otherwise, it'll have a little bite to it, which is fine with me.) Then pour the curry back into the pan.

Once the chicken has cooled, dice into small cubes. Return the chicken to the pan with the yellow curry and bring to a boil. Cook until the chicken is heated through, 2 to 4 minutes.

Transfer into a serving dish or bowl and serve with rice or noodles.