Cheat's Malaysian creamy coconut curry with chicken and potatoes

Creamy coconut curry with chicken and potatoes.
Creamy coconut curry with chicken and potatoes. Photo: Katrina Meynink

For a curry that doesn't spend very long on the stovetop, this has a great intensity of flavour, as though it has been bubbling away and building for hours. The roasty, toasted coconut combined with smoky star anise makes this seriously comforting and warming for those cold nights. I've added kipfler potatoes for winter heft and also because they work spectacularly well – it means you could stretch the dregs of a roast chook into a full meal for four people. Win-win.


¾ cup desiccated coconut

1 tbsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp red chilli paste

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp freshly grated garlic (from about 3 cloves)

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (from a knob about 5cm; or substitute with 1 tbsp ginger paste or ½ tbsp ground ginger)

2 tsp ground star anise

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 brown onion, finely diced

3 tbsp plum jam

400g can coconut cream

½ cup chicken stock

350g small kipfler potatoes, pricked with a fork and microwaved on high for 3 minutes*

2 cups shredded roast chicken

juice and zest of 1 lime

To serve

coconut rice or steamed rice

roti (optional)

coriander leaves


1. Toast the coconut in a dry frying pan over medium heat for about 1 minute – keep a close eye on it to prevent it from burning. Set aside.

2. Combine the turmeric powder, chilli paste, coriander, garlic, ginger and star anise in a bowl until a paste forms.

3. Place the same frying pan over medium heat. Add the coconut oil, and once shimmering, add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. It is important not to rush this step as the onion adds a wonderful depth and sweetness to the curry.

4. Add the paste and cook until the onion is coated in the mixture and it becomes fragrant. Add the plum jam and most of the toasted coconut, reserving 2 tablespoons for serving. Add the coconut cream and chicken stock and give it a good stir to incorporate. Add the fingerling potatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer.

5. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft enough to eat (check regularly as the amount of cooking in the microwave can vary). Add the chicken and simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until the chicken has warmed through. Stir through the lime juice and zest and season generously with salt and pepper.

6. Spoon into bowls, top with remaining toasted coconut, scatter with coriander leaves, and serve with rice and roti, if using.

*Giving the potatoes a zap in the microwave for a few minutes gives them a head start and reduces the time on the stovetop.