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Sweet-and-Spicy Chicken Curry

This is Neil Perry's riff on a rich, nuanced Malaysian curry that he calls Chicken Kapitan. Because he makes the recipe with plenty of fresh and dried chiles and coconut milk, it's sweet, spicy and altogether sublime, especially when topped with a mound of crispy fried shallots.

slideshow Amazing Chicken Recipes

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 8 fresh long red chiles, such as Holland, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 5 small dried red chiles, such as chiles de árbol, seeded
  • 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender inner white bulbs only, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 small shallots, coarsely chopped, plus 4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 whole chicken legs, split into legs and thighs (3 pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. In a food processor, combine the fresh and dried red chiles, lemongrass, garlic, coarsely chopped shallots and water and process to a fine paste.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Season the chicken with salt and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Reduce the heat to moderate and add the chile paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pan and brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and return the chicken to the skillet. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the remaining 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the thinly sliced shallots and fry over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to paper towels to drain.
  5. Transfer the chicken to plates. Add the lemon juice to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the shallots.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for 2 days.

Serve With

Steamed white rice.

Suggested Pairing

The complex flavors of this spicy, coconut-inflected curry are well-suited to Chardonnay from Australia's Adelaide Hills region.

Contributed By Photo © Petrina Tinslay Published October 2007

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