Padang-Style Chicken Curry (Gulai Ayam)
Ingalls Photography

Chicken thighs can also be used to make this aromatic Indonesian curry. This recipe first appeared in our March 2014 issue with the story Spice World.

Padang-Style Chicken Curry (Gulai Ayam) Padang-Style Chicken Curry (Gulai Ayam)
Chicken thighs can also be used to make this aromatic Indonesian curry.
Yield: serves 4


  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 12 tsp. whole cloves
  • 14 tsp. cardamom seeds
  • 10 fresh red Thai chiles
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 small Asian shallots, or 1 regular, peeled
  • 1 (2″) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 5 Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and knotted
  • 1 (3 1/2–4-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Rice, for serving


  1. Purée coriander, cumin, fennel, nutmeg, turmeric, cloves, cardamom, chiles, candlenuts, garlic, shallots, ginger, and 2 tbsp. water in a food processor into a paste; set aside. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Cook paste with lime leaves, cinnamon, and lemongrass until golden, 5–7 minutes. Add chicken; cook until browned, 8–10 minutes. Stir in half the milk and 1 14 cups water; boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, while stirring, until tender, 10–12 minutes. Stir in remaining milk and salt; cook until slightly thick, 2 minutes more. Serve with rice.