If you are looking for Malay chicken curry, you should try this Cape Malay chicken curry recipe. Using tomatoes, instead of coconut milk, brings a subtle tang to the dish that is quite delicious. This Malaysian chicken curry is mild enough for everyone to enjoy.

Cape Malay chicken curry is garnished with parsley in a blue pot with a lid

I made this cape Malay chicken curry recipe not long ago and thought I can start training myself making curries more often with this recipe. 

As far as I know, this is not an authentic Malaysian chicken curry. The name Cape comes from the Western Cape province in South Africa where a good number of Malaysians dwell, and whom originated this recipe.

I must admit that I am not a curry expert. I am not an expert making very authentic curries but I do enjoy eating various types from all over the region, though.

For living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, you can get really delicious curries from everywhere in the city. Malaysian, Indian, Pakistani, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, African… you name it.

Maybe because there are so much to choose from and so easily accessible, I just take my family to the nearest restaurant whenever we get the curry craving kicking in. No wonder I never bother to cook curries at my own kitchen.

The flavor of this chicken curry is really nice and easy to get used to for those who are the curry beginners, especially if you are not a fan of curry made with coconut milk. The addition of either diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes brings a slight tang to the over all flavor but not over-powering the entire dish.

Hope you like this Malaysian curry. My family thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cape Malay Chicken Curry Spice Mixture

Curry spices are collected on a stone mortar to make Cape Malay chicken curry.

First of all, gather up your spices in the mortar or in a mini processor.

Correction: The fennel seeds and coriander seeds are switched on the photo above.

Grind curry spices for Cape Malay chicken curry with a pestle.

Start grind them together. Oh, the aroma…

Curry spices are pounded in a mortar with a pestle.

Until they get to combine very well.

Remove the cardamom pod skin from the pounded spice mixture.

I picked most the cardamom pod skins and discarded them. One of the Indian lady at the shop where I purchased the spices told me to do that.

How to make Cape Malay Chicken Curry

Finely chop onion, garlic, and ginger for making a curry.

Chop onion, garlic, and ginger finely.

Saute onion and ginger in some oil over medium heat until soft.

Saute onion and ginger in some oil over medium heat until soft.

Add the spices and cook together until they become fragrant.

Add the spices and cook together until the holy fragrance fills up your kitchen.

Add crushed tomatoes to the curry spice mixture.

Add crushed tomatoes. You can used canned diced tomatoes as well.

Tomato curry spice mixture is simmering in a blue pot.

Bring the sauce to gentle boil.

Add chicken pieces to a curry sauce in a pot and let it simmer.

Add the chicken pieces. Chicken thighs, drumsticks, or breast. bone-in pieces will bring better flavor.
Cover with a lid and lower the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

Sugar, garlic, and lemon juice is added to the curry mixture in a pot.

Add garlic, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Stir all together to combine.

A lid covering a blue pot is slightly opened to let the steam escape.

Cover the lid again but with a little opening for the steam to escape, continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. And your curry will be ready to serve. Actually with any braised food, it tastes much better on the next day which I did. 

The chickens are so tender and full of  flavor. Loved the aroma and the slight tang from the tomatoes. It was just perfect for our Thursday night dinner.

More Delicious Curry Recipes

A plate of chicken curry with rice is served with spoon and fork
Cape Malay chicken curry is garnished with parsley in a blue pot with a lid

Cape Malay Chicken Curry

The addition of canned tomatoes bring a nice tang to this unique Cape Malay Chicken Curry recipe. This is a mildly spicy curry for everyone.
5 from 15 ratings


  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chili flakes, or fresh hot peppers to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel, ground, or 4 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2-1 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 15 cardamom pods, whole pods
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 14 oz can crushed tomatoes , or diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken pieces
  • 2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 -3 tsp salt


  • Put the 7 spices — from the coriander seeds down to the garam masala — in a mortar and pestle. Pound them together so the cardamom pods burst and the whole thing becomes a mess of spices. Discard the skin of cardamom pods. Continue to pound the spices until they become like a powder.
  • Heat the oil in a pot, add the onion and ginger over fairly high heat, and stir occasionally for a few minutes. Add the chili flakes and spices and stir for 2 minutes. You might need to add more oil (Spices slurp up oil as they fry)
  • Add the can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Cook until everything bubbles up together.
  • Add the chicken pieces, and stir to coat well, keeping heat high until everything is bubbling away. Turn the heat down, put on a lid, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, sugar, lemon juice and salt to the curry. Cover with lid but leave a small opening for a steam to escape; simmer for 15 minutes or longer. Taste the sauce, and adjust seasoning according to your taste.
  • Near the end of cooking, skim off extra oil/fat with a spoon, as it collects in corners of the pot, if needed. Serve the curry warm with rice.
Calories: 469kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 16g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 87mg, Sodium: 235mg, Potassium: 730mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 688IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 108mg, Iron: 5mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @beyondkimchee on Instagram. I love to see your masterpiece.