Archive of BBC Food Recipes

Amy's spicy Nyonya chicken

Prep time less than 30 mins
Cook time less than 30 mins
Serves 4
From Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey
This is a simple South-East Asian chicken curry, rich and fragrant with spices. The person who introduced me to this dish, Amy, says she often stirs in a little lime juice and coconut milk at the end to ‘wake up the curry’.


  1. For the spice paste, blend all of the spice paste ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.

  2. For the chicken, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the chicken pieces and fry until pale golden-brown all over.

  3. Add the spice paste to the pan and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.

  4. Add the bruised lemongrass stalks, lime leaves and water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over now and again, until the chicken pieces are completely cooked through and the volume of liquid has reduced by about a half. (NB: The chicken pieces are cooked through when the juices run clear when pierced in the thickest part with a skewer.)

  5. When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the palm sugar and lime juice and season, to taste, with salt.

  6. Serve immediately in serving bowls.


For the spice paste

  • 6 dried red chillies, preferably Kashmiri, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, then drained
  • 75g/2¾oz shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 fat lemongrass stalks, hard outer leaves removed, soft inner core chopped
  • 40g/1½oz garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (available from some supermarkets and Asian grocers)
  • 25g/1oz galangal or root ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the chicken

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 x 1.5kg/3lb 5oz chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised with a rolling pin then cut in half lengthways
  • 4 lime leaves
  • 200ml/7fl oz water
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (available from some supermarkets and Asian grocers; substitute golden caster sugar if unavailable)
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • salt, to taste

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