Although aptly named for its traditionally peppery presence, this Malaysian curry sauce can easily be adapted to whatever your preferred heat preference*. Made with a fragrant base of lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and turmeric, and loaded with chicken and potatoes, it’s deeply nurturing and insanely satisfying.Angie Zoobkoff

*How to Choose the Best Chile For This Curry

Love sweat-inducing, throat-tickling, gasping-for-water heat? Seek out some dried Thai chiles. Prefer something milder? Make this with dried pasilla, Guajillo, or Kashmiri chiles. You can tailor it specifically to the picky palates at your table.

A bowl of devil's curry--chunks of chicken thighs, potatoes, and curry paste with naan bread on the side

Devil’s Curry

5 from 1 vote
Devil’s curry, a classic Malaysian chicken curry, takes its complex taste from ginger, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and chiles and is loaded with satisfying chicken and potatoes. The name suggests some serious heat although it can be adjusted to your preference.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories531 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


For the curry paste

  • 3 lemongrass stalks
  • 1 1/2 ounces ginger root
  • 1 ounce fresh galangal
  • 1 ounce fresh turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 10 to 15 whole dried chile peppers* (a wide array of peppers will work here)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 banana or regular shallots, peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

For the curry sauce

  • Mild vegetable oil, for cooking
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 18 ounces new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
  • Small handful of cilantro, to serve


Make the curry paste

  • Remove and discard the woody ends of the lemongrass stalks and coarsely chop the inner stalks. Peel the ginger and then peel or scrape the skin from the galangal and turmeric. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and the remaining paste ingredients to a food processor and pulse until a smooth, pungent paste forms. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure everything is incorporated.

Make the curry sauce

  • In a 5 or 6-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, warm 2 to 3 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the mustard seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to pop violently, about 30 seconds. Let the seeds continue cooking noisily for a minute and then stir in the paste. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the paste seems to dry out, a good few minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken, and stir to coat. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar and then add the potatoes and chicken stock. If the stock doesn’t quite cover everything, add enough water to ensure the potatoes are just covered.
  • Bring the curry to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes, giving the curry a stir every once in a while.
  • Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes before sprinkling with the cilantro.
Comfort Cookbook

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 531 kcalCarbohydrates: 45 gProtein: 57 gFat: 13 gSaturated Fat: 3 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 242 mgSodium: 988 mgPotassium: 1695 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 10 gVitamin A: 398 IUVitamin C: 31 mgCalcium: 94 mgIron: 8 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 John Whaite. Photo © 2018 Nassima Rothacker. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I will admit that the title gave me a few moments pause, and I did have a pizza on standby just in case this was too spicy for my kids to handle. I was so happy to discover that by choosing low-heat chile peppers I was able to keep the heat at a manageable level for the 10-year old crowd yet none of the amazing flavor from the curry base was lost.

The combination of lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and galangal gave so much depth to this curry that I happily kept slurping away. In the future, I’d make it spicier, but it was great to know that it could be made to suit all taste buds!

I used my 5-quart Dutch oven, which was an appropriate size. I did not need to add water to cover the potatoes and the timing was accurate on all steps. At 30 minutes, the potatoes were just tender, but after resting for 15 minutes, they were perfectly soft.

I served this with some homemade naan for dipping and a salad of chopped cucumber, tomato, and parsley dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Let me start by saying I love a good curry and I don’t mind if it’s a little hot. I used 15 Guajillo chilies as that was what I had on hand. As curries go it had flavor and was well balanced—in fact, it was delicious. It just wasn’t hot.

It was mild and while very tasty, I had prepared my tasters for mind-blowing heat and the curry didn’t follow through with the peppers I chose. I will try this recipe again but will research the type of dried chili to have this curry live up to it’s name of Devil’s Curry.

I used a 6-quart Dutch oven and it pretty much filled it up. I didn’t add any water. The sauce looked pretty thin after 30 minutes but after letting it sit for 15 minutes it had thickened up.

I understand this is called “Devil’s Curry.” I used Donne(booney) Peppers from Guam because that was what I had. I looked for dried Thai Choli peppers but all I found were fresh ones. The way I made it, it’s just too hot to enjoy. I think if you could cut down on the heat it would be a Tester’s Choice, as it does have a nice flavor, it’s just when that heat kicks in, it just isn’t palatable.

I used my cast iron 6-quart Dutch oven. I did not have to add water at the beginning but the potatoes weren’t done before the water level dropped enough for me to have to add water.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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