Sweetrosie’s Chicken Curry Kapitan

It’s no secret that I love Malaysian and Singaporean food. Chicken Curry Kapitan is another  favourite dish that finds it’s way onto the menu quite often.

The best version I ever had, and have never  come close to reproducing, was cooked for us on a trip to Penang. The cook was monty’s family amah back when he was posted in Butterworth with the Australian Airforce. This beautiful, generous woman of Indian origins, invited us for a home cooked meal that was one of the highlights of that trip. And, that’s really saying something – Penang is a foodie paradise. 

Most weeknights when I go to make this dish I am missing something… it might be the Asian shallots, or fresh turmeric, or even the potatoes. It probably should have some lemongrass in the spice paste. It doesn’t seem to matter too much. It’s a very forgiving dish. Please feel free to make your own adjustments to my recipe. Some of the Curry Kapitan recipes I have read call for 15 red chillis! + soaked dried chilli! I don’t mind admitting that we just don’t have that level of chilli tolerance. Cook to suit yourself. It’s better than not cooking at all 🙂

This is my version of Chicken Curry Kapitan

Using the mortar and pestle, I ground/smashed together the following:


  • 3 red chillies

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 15 small, purple Asian shallots

  • about 15 cashew nuts. Candlenuts would normally be used. They add texture and thicken the sauce. No candlenuts? Use macadamias. I didn’t have those either so I used cashews 🙂 It worked out fine.

  • a piece of belacan – I used about a large teaspoon worth; sliced off the block. Belacan is a bit stinky in the raw state. I keep mine in a ziploc bag in the fridge. After a while though you really don’t mind the smell at all and it adds a delicious indefinable element to the curry. BTW: The c is pronounced as ch in Bahasa Malay.

I scooped up the paste and gently fried it in a tablespoon of oil.



When it was aromatic I added 1 chopped red onion, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 4 cardamom pods:gently bruised but left whole, and about 10 dried curry leaves.


Then I added:

450g chicken thigh fillet (this was how much was in the pack) I cut them in half only. I prefer large pieces and it doesn’t have a chance to break up during the cooking

2 large potatoes. Peeled and each cut into 6 wedges


They got a good stir around in the spice mix before I added the remainder of a jar of yellow curry paste. You could add a tablespoon or so of your favourite paste or powder at this stage. I mixed the yellow curry paste with a bit of coconut milk in the jar to make it easier to get all of it out.


Then I added a can (about 400mls) of coconut milk and some salt to taste, along with 1 teaspoon of sugar.


At this point the curry was left to simmer on a medium heat until the chicken and potato was cooked and the sauce had reduced and thickened. It took about 40 minutes.


I served it with this rice:


 Pandan leaves and turmeric flavoured Basmati rice to perfection.


10 thoughts on “Sweetrosie’s Chicken Curry Kapitan

  1. Hi Sweetrosie!
    What an interesting recipe, is it like ayam lemak (chicken in coconut gravy, in Malay)? I noticed you used Asian shallots, are there other types of shallots available there? I always thought the shallots here in Singapore were the same everywhere. I like your step by step pictures, it takes a lot of effort doesn’t it? Have to keep on washing hands in between..Great job!

  2. Hi happygrub 🙂
    Thank you for your kind words. Yes, it is like ayam lemak, although no where near “authentic”- it’s just my version 🙂
    The little purple shallots are not widely available here. What you probably call “big onion” is most often used for cooking. You can get the little brown shallots here too, although they are by no means everywhere. I have used those ones when the purple aren’t about, and also whole in dishes like French Coq au Vin.
    I am so pleased you liked my post – I’m still kind of new to blogging – thank you !

  3. Wow, dear sweetrosie, your Kari Kapitan (in Malay language) looks so delicious…and as usual, you take great photos with good instructions that are easy to follow. 😉

    There are different types of shallots and the type that we like to use in our curries are those that have a light pink/purplish colour, and they are usually from Thailand. This variety of shallots has the best fragrant aroma and sweetness in taste.

    The other type of shallots are a darker purple in colour and rounder in shape, and this usually comes from India (i.e. for us here in Malaysia).

    Do keep these wonderful recipes coming, sweetrosie! Have a wonderful day! 😀

    With peace and joy,

    choesf 😀

  4. Dear choesf

    That’s a compliment I treasure coming from you 🙂

    Thank you for the shallot info too, I am always, always interested in information about ingredients and methods.

    As I said in my post, this just what I make. I am certain it is not authentic, but it is delicious 😉

    I hope you are having a wonderful time sourcing your recipes ready for Christmas Eve. Your goose sounds so impressive!

    Have a lovely evening.

  5. Good evening, dear sweetrosie 😀

    Yes, I am having fun shopping for my Christmas Eve dinner recipes. In the end, I “chickened” 😆 out and decided to go with the usual roast turkey, instead of a goose. This year, my turkey is extra special and will taste delicious – it is imported from Australia! 😆 Previously, the supermarkets here sold turkeys from the US.

    Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

    With peace and joy,

    choesf 😀

  6. Thank you so much Sri!! I am very flattered that you liked my recipe. I also make a fish curry that we have with roti telur and I’m going to post that one soon.
    I look forward to having a look at your site – thank you again for coming to mine 🙂

    Have a lovely day

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