Recipe: Singapore Chinese Chicken Chicken (Evelyn Liau’s recipe)

Everyone I know in Singapore has a family recipe for Curry Chicken that they swear by. This is a recipe by Evelyn Liau, a lady from Covenant Community Methodist Church in Singapore that was published in a 2001 recipe collection by the church called ‘The Treasured Collection’.

This recipe is complex because it involves sambal garam assam, a versatile chili paste that can be pre-made and used for several recipes. If you already have it on hand, then the Curry Chicken is quick and easy recipe. I always have a jar on hand in the freezer.

My family recipe is my Aunt Agnes’, which I have tweaked and added to over the years. It is unique in that it doesn’t involve coconut milk. It is also a simpler recipe that I will share in a separate post.

Singapore Chinese Chicken Chicken 

by Evelyn Liau (‘A Treasured Collection’)


3 lb chicken, cut up*

4 tbsp curry powder (not Indian)**

2 tsp chicken bouillon powder

2 tsp salt


3 tomatoes


4 tbsp vegetable oil

4 tbsp sambal garam assam (recipe in separate blog post here)

3 red chillies, deseeded and julienned

10 kaffir lime leaves, julienned***

4 sprigs curry leaf (optional)****

10 cardamom seeds, lightly bashed (I use the handle butt of my chef’s knife)

1 cinnamon stick


1 can coconut milk*****

Water enough to make up 4 1/2 cups of diluted coconut milk


2 medium sized potatoes, cubed



A. Marinate the chicken with the curry powder, chicken bouillon powder and salt. I find it useful to bunk everything in a ziploc bag and give it a good shake. Stand for at least 1 hour.

B. Blend the tomatoes into a puree. Add half of it to the chicken as part of the marinade. Set aside the other half.

C. In a pot, heat the oil. Then fry the ingredients until fragrant and the oil gleams through the aromatic paste. Add the chicken and stir to coat the chicken pieces with the aromatic paste thoroughly. Add the remaining half of the tomato purée and stir to mix  again.

D. Add the diluted coconut milk and bring to a boil.

E. Add the potatoes and simmer the curry for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Here, the Curry Chicken is served on a banana leaf with nasi kunyit (Celebration Yellow Rice), otak otak (spicy fish cake) and spinach dressed with satay sauce.

* I use a combination of chicken thighs and wings and legs, often chicken breast (cubed) if I’m serving it to non-Asian guests.

** Different brands of curry powder have different combinations of spices. My favorite brand is by Chilli Padi Nonya Spices which I cart back from Singapore to the USA in bulk. The other brand I like is by Earthern Pot.

*** This is a two-lobed leaf. Both lobes count as one leaf.

**** Cuury leaves are available in some parts of the USA but not others. For example, they  were prevalent in D.C. but I have not seen them in Houston.

***** In the USA, I like Savoy brand and Aroy-D, both from Thailand, because they do not contain any preservatives. Any organic brand would do too.


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