Malaysian Chicken Curry | Kari Ayam

May 05, 2021

Cooking Malaysian Chicken Curry using Instant pot is so much easier and faster. 

 Kari ayam

Lets talk about Curry!

Needless to say, we, Malaysians love our curries.

There are many type of curries in Malaysian food scene.

Just to paint curry perfect picture for you, in Malaysia, we have fish curry, dried fish curry, crab curry, prawn curry, pineapple dry curry, young jack fruit curry, curry with young banana, beef curry, vegetables curry and the most loved chicken curry.

Talking about chicken curry, also known as Kari Ayam, again we have varieties of chicken curry.

Almost each states in Malaysia will have their own version of curry chicken.
Devils chicken curry, Nyonya chicken curry, Kari Kapitan (Captain's curry), Penang chicken curry (Muslim Indian food vendor).
I am introducing Kari Ayam (chicken curry) from my hometown.

Our kari ayam / chicken curry has a touch of south Indian cooking, with coconut milk, ginger, onion, garlic and the spices used.
Not surprising as our earlier Indian settlers to Malaya were from south India (including my late father's side of family).
 Curry chicken Malaysian recipe

Is Malaysian chicken curry spicy?

Don't be alarmed!!!
Malaysian chicken curry uses pre-mix curry powder.

I used Baba's meat curry powder but there few other curry powder that I used as well, like Alagappa or Adabi.

The spiciness is very much depending on the mix and how much curry powder one put in making the curry.

How To Cook Chicken Curry | Kari Ayam in Instant Pot?

I usually cook my chicken curry on the stove, since I bought Instant pot during black Friday sale last November, so why not make full use of it, right? ;P

I have been experimenting cooking Malaysian food using Instant pot and one of them is my Beef Rendang.
Once of the reasons that I used Instant pot to cook my chicken curry because it is easy and fast (well faster than cooking on the stove top)

Potato and chicken cooked at the same time.

Printable recipe can be found at the end of this post.

1. Blend onion, garlic and ginger

 chopped onion
 chopped garlic

2. Saute onion and spices
3. Add blended onion

 Sliced onion
 Add cinnamon and star anise

4. Add Malaysian meat curry powder and chicken thighs
5. Add potatoes, salt and roasted coconut paste.
6. Add light coconut cream and water

 Add meat curry powder
 Add potato to curry chicken
 Add roasted coconut paste

7. Start Instant Pot

8. Release pressure and add coconut cream
Serve kari ayam with either steamed rice or roti.

 Finishing touch to add coconut cream

Can I cook Malaysian Kari Ayam without Instant Pot?

Definitely you can.

The prep work to cook curry is the same. 
Even the steps from saute to the finishing off cooking curry with coconut cream is the same.

It just takes longer to cook curry on the stove.
Just make sure that the chicken and potatoes are cook through though, especially if you are not using chicken fillets .

Can Chicken Curry be made without coconut milk?

Might not have the same taste but, yes, I have cooked chicken curry sans coconut milk. 
I add fresh milk instead (this was when I was into "healthy" eating phase in  my life!)

My late mother-in-law cooked her curry chicken without coconut milk or milk. 
She added a handful of curry leaves to bring out the flavour.
We dubbed that as her Dry chicken curry.


Other Malaysian Curries

Malaysian Curry Laksa
Penang Beef Curry
Chicken Green Curry
Panang Curry
Nyonya Curry Laksa

 malay curry chicken

Malaysian Chicken Curry

Malaysian Chicken Curry
Yield: 6
Author: Lisa Ho
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 30 Min
Cooking Malaysian Chicken Curry using Instant pot is so much easier and faster. Served Malaysian chicken curry with either steamed rice or flat bread known as paratha.


  • 2 large brown onions ( one for blending and the other for saute)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 knob of ginger (15g)
  • 4 tablespoon Malaysian curry powder
  • 3 potatoes (diced)
  • 700g chicken thigh fillet
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon roasted coconut paste
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1 cup water plus 1/2 cup light coconut milk (see note 1)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 star anise (I used broken star anise which is equivalent to one)


  1. Blend onion, ginger and garlic with 1/4 cup of oil
  2. Heat up Instant Pot and set to saute.
  3. Once Instant Pot indicate "HOT" add 3 tablespoon of cooking oil and saute the sliced onion
  4. Add cinnamon and star anise.
  5. Saute until onion changed colour to slightly golden brown and aromatic.
  6. Add blended onion, garlic and ginger into Instant Pot.
  7. Stir for few minutes then add Malaysian curry powder.
  8. Stir and cook until oil splits.
  9. Then add chicken thigh and stir to mix and coat the chicken pieces.
  10. Add potatoes and stir again to mix well.
  11. Add light coconut cream follow with water  (see Note 2).
  12. Add salt and roasted coconut paste.
  13. Put on the Instant Pot lid and select chicken and set for 15 minutes.
  14. Let the Malaysian chicken curry rest in the Instant pot for another 10 minutes (once the pot indicate that it has finished cooking).
  15. Be extra careful when releasing the pressure and making sure that the indicator is down before opening the lid.
  16. Give the chicken a good stir and add thick coconut milk.
  17. Set n SAUTE mode to a quick boil 
  18. Switch off the Instant Pot.
  19. Serve Malaysian Chicken curry with either steamed rice or paratha.


  1. Dilute coconut cream with water for example 1/4 cup coconut cream, add 1/2 cup water
  2. Making sure the spices does not stick to the bottom of the Instant Pot, otherwise, your Instant Pot will indicate "Food Burn". If this happen, open up the Instant Pot and try to scrape as much of the paste that stuck to the bottom as much as you can and may have to add 1/2 water to get the Instant Pot going again.

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 Malaysians love their Kari Ayam or chicken curry. And Cooking Malaysian Chicken Curry using Instant pot is so much easier and faster.  Using spices and premixed curry powder, this  delicious chicken curry is ready to be served  within 30 minutes (once the pressure in the Instant pot starts to build up)  Served Malaysian chicken curry with either steamed rice or flat bread known as paratha.