Thursday, 16 January 2014

Gulai Ayam - Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk

I'm sure there are hundreds of variations to gulai ayam... I mean, coconut milk is widely used in stews and curries from Southeast Asia to Africa... Chicken is the most common protein for gulai, but lamb or goat are popular as well. 

It is so easy to make gulai from scratch, especially this version of mine. Often when making a stew or curry like this, it involves making a spice paste.  I don't bother with that... not this time.  I just finely chop the ingredients.  So, there's a bit of chopping and grating here which I don't mind doing.  But if you want to speed up the process, you could chop the shallots, garlic, chillies, ginger, lemongrass and fresh coriander in a food processor or in a blender...and what gives the gulai that lovely marigold-yellow and uplifting colour is turmeric.

Again, I only use chicken thighs and legs here because they have more flavours and are cheaper.  But do use the white meat if you prefer that. 

The stew/curry is best served with rice, although I must say, if you have a nice crusty bread to soak up the gravy, it's delicious as well.

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk

6 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 red chillies, thinly sliced
1 lemongrass, white part only, lightly bruised
A handful of fresh coriander, stalks finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
8 pieces of chicken, preferably organic
350 ml coconut milk
300 ml water
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the shallots, garlic, ginger, chillies, lemongrass and coriander stalks (I accidentally add the leaves too). Cook for a couple of minutes or until fragrant.  

Add the ground turmeric, followed by the chicken pieces. Stir to make sure the chicken pieces are all coated in the spices. Pour the coconut milk and water.  Season with salt and white pepper.  When the mixture comes to a boil, add the potatoes and let this simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring from time to time.  

Before serving, add the lime juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.  Serve with rice and sprinkle over the coriander leaves.


  1. Happy New Year, Michael!
    I do love coconut milk and replace regular milk with it every chance I get. Your dish looks delicious. Love the color and flavors!

  2. Love the coconuty curry gravy, Michael. This looks very flavourful and delicious.

  3. Michael, I just left a comment; it totally got rejected for some reason...trying again!
    Just wanted to let you know how much I love the coconut and the curry combination for the beautiful sauce you made. Such a flavorful, and colorful dish; do want to try this soon!

  4. Lovely colours and fine flavours. I'd definitely have crusty bread ready for this.

  5. Yum! I love the combination of coconut milk and you have lemongrass...sounds delicious and the color is just very inviting.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are enjoying your week Michael :D

  6. What great flavors in this dish... Looks delicious!!!

  7. I absolutely love the sound of this! And I think using chicken thighs would be a great choice. They're so succulent! :D

  8. COCONUT FTW. We have a very similar dish in Singapore I think, with pretty much the same base ingredients, but pounded and made into a rempah instead. I guess because of the proximity of our countries and cultures, alot of food is similar. The flavours in this are stunning- looks gorgeous too. Good one Michael! x