Balinese chicken curry

Bring the taste of delicious Balinese food into your home with this easy chicken curry!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main
Servings 4
Dairy Free, Gluten Free


Curry paste

  • 2 large shallots or 3 small
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ginger 3 cm piece peeled
  • 2 long red chillies deseeded (or leave seeds in if you want a spicy curry)
  • ½ cup roasted cashew nuts plus extra to garnish
  • fresh turmeric 5 cm piece peeled (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind purée if you can’t find this, use 1 Tbsp lemon juice mixed with 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 stalk lemongrass tough outer layer removed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce gluten-free if required
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar

Chicken curry

  • oil for frying
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 600 g skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into 3cm dice
  • 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce gluten-free if required
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves tough inner stalk removed, very finely sliced
  • 1 lime juice

To serve

  • 1 red chilli very finely sliced lengthwise
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf very finely sliced lengthwise
  • steamed rice
  • 1 cup beansprouts
  • 1 cucumber cut into 1cm dice
  • 1 lime cut into wedges


  • Place all the curry paste ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste.
  • Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add ¾ cup of the curry paste (freeze the remaining paste if you like, for another curry) and fry for about 4 minutes until very fragrant, stirring continuously to prevent sticking.
  • Add another drizzle of oil, the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until onion is very soft (about 5 minutes). Add 1 Tbsp water if mixture begins to stick to pan.
  • Add chicken and fry for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Add coconut milk, soy sauce and kaffir lime leaves and simmer for about 8 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce has intensified in colour and thickened slightly. Season to taste with lime juice.
  • Garnish with extra roasted cashews and thinly sliced red chilli and kaffir lime leaf. Serve with rice, with a handful of beansprouts, diced cucumber and a lime wedge on the side.


  • If you’d like to make your curry hotter you can add more curry paste, but make sure you fry it off in a separate small pan for a few minutes (until fragrant). Then add a small amount at a time to the curry until you reach your desired heat level. That way you won’t get the rawness of any spices or shallots in your curry.


This Balinese chicken curry is easy enough to make on a weeknight, but also special enough to serve when entertaining. If you’re having trouble finding fresh turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime or tamarind, try an Asian supermarket. You can often buy lemongrass and kaffir lime in the frozen section too.
If I were making this curry vegetarian/vegan, I’d use a tin of chickpeas instead of the chicken.
Use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari if required
This recipe comes from a story on curries from around the world in the June/July issue of NADIA magazine.