Chicken kapitan with fragrant rice

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's chicken kapitan.
Neil Perry's chicken kapitan. Photo: William Meppem

This Malaysian curry is so easy to make. Just blend all the ingredients and it's almost ready.


For chicken kapitan

90ml vegetable oil

300g spice paste (see below)

400ml coconut cream

2 small stalks lemongrass hearts, finely sliced into thin rounds

1.5kg skinless chicken thigh fillets, each cut into 6 pieces

400ml coconut milk

1/4 cup light palm sugar

40ml lime juice

sea salt

For spice paste

3/4 tbsp Belachan (Malaysian shrimp paste)

2 medium dried red chillies, deseeded and soaked in warm water

4 medium fresh long red chillies, deseeded

6 red shallots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

For fragrant rice

400g cooked long grain white rice, cold

40ml vegetable oil

1/2 medium red onion, finely sliced

2 long green shallots, cut into 4cm lengths

2 medium fresh long red chillies, deseeded and sliced

2 tsp peeled ginger, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

30ml Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)

50ml yellow bean soy sauce

1 tbsp caster sugar


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

For the spice paste

Place the shrimp paste in a small pan and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until fragrant. Allow to cool.

Place all other spice paste ingredients, along with the shrimp paste, into a blender and blend to a fine paste.

For the curry

Heat oil in a wok, add the spice paste and fry until fragrant, stirring frequently for about 12 minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add half the coconut cream and the lemongrass, and stir-fry until the cream separates.

Add the chicken thigh fillets and fry for about 6 minutes until well coated with the spice paste. Add the coconut milk and palm sugar, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Add the lime juice and remaining coconut cream, and season to taste.

For the rice

Heat a wok or large non-stick frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add oil and when it is very hot, add the onions and green shallots, and fry for 1 minute. Add the chilli, and fry for 30 seconds. Add ginger and garlic, fry for 30 seconds. Add rice and stir-fry, mixing thoroughly and breaking up any clumps of rice. Add the Shaoxing, soy and sugar.

Continue to stir-fry until seasoning is totally mixed through and rice has no clumps.


You should be able to find Belachan shrimp paste in most good grocery stores.

This is also a great curry for seafood, so cook the paste, add the seasoning and coconut and cook for about 10 minutes, then add prawns, fish, scallops - whatever you like. Just be sure to cook the seafood gently.

Lobsters are cheaper in December and make the best kapitan curry going!


The green apple and citrus flavours of this 2011 Delatite Riesling (about $23), from a small family-owned biodynamic winery in Upper Goulburn, Victoria, will beautifully complement the chicken kapitan curry.