Malay chicken curry with kersik

    2 hours

    Kersik is one of the ingredients that make Malay and Indonesian curries so different from those of the rest of the world. Kersik is simply grated coconut dry fried until golden.brown and then crushed to a paste. Not only does it thicken the sauce of the curry it also imparts a gorgeous smell of toasted coconut to both the curry and your kitchen. I've reduced the amount of chillies in this recipe to suit a European taste. To get the colour of the sauce back to its deep red brown I've added sweet paprika powder to the rempah (spice paste).

    London, England, UK
    3 people made this

    Serves: 6 

    • 40g dessicated coconut
    • 3 tablespoons oil (preferably groundnut)
    • 6 curry leaves
    • 2 teaspoons Laos powder (ground dried galangal root)
    • 1 medium chicken, jointed (or 6 to 8 chicken thighs)
    • 500ml coconut milk
    • salt to taste
    • For the rempah
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 3 onions, finely chopped
    • 4 to 6 medium chillies, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
    • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:1hr30min  ›  Ready in:2hr 

    1. Heat a frying pan and add the coconut. Dry fry the coconut, stirring occasionally, until the coconut is golden brown. Remove from heat. Grind the toasted coconut to a smooth paste and set aside.
    2. Grind the rempah ingredients to a paste, either using mortar and pestle or an electric blender.
    3. Heat oil in a pan and add the rempah. Cook uncovered over low heat until the oil starts to separate back out of the rempah, about 20 minutes. Stir whilst cooking to ensure the paste does not burn. (If necessary add a little coconut milk to prevent burning and sticking.)
    4. Add the curry leaves and laos powder, and cook for about 1/2 a minute until the curry leaves are fragrant. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly with the mixture, then add the coconut milk.
    5. Bring to a simmer, cover and allow to cook until chicken is just starting to fall off the bones, about 1 hour.
    6. Uncover and add kersik (coconut paste) and salt (about 1 teaspoon should be adequate). Mix well and increase heat until sauce is bubbling, keep stirring until sauce is reduced slightly and thick.
    7. Adjust seasoning and serve hot with plain white rice and assorted side dishes(fried plantains, ajar, chutnies and raitas).


    If you use a blender to grind the kersik and rempah instead of using a mortar and pestle, you may need to add small amounts of coconut milk to both to ensure they blend properly and don't just stick to the blades.

    Freezing tip

    Both lemongrass and curry leaves can be kept in the freezer, though if left too long in the freezer the curry leaves will dry out and loose some of their flavour.

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