Sweet & Tangy Chicken Curry (Malbi Ayam) ala Dentist Chef

sweet tangy chicken curry recipe

Sweet and Tangy Chicken Curry

Malbi is a sweet curry stew that consist a rich spice with a sweet and slighly tangy after taste.  Malbi is a herrtitage recipe from Palembang, South Sumatra Province in Indonesia. Malbi is similiar to Smoor (Dutch) or Semur (Indonesian) that usually made of beef. Slightly different with my Semur Daging Sapi (Indonesian Braised Beef Shank in Sweet Soy Sauce), Malbi contains  coconut milk and much more richer spice, while Semur is more peppery. Despite the common taste of malbi, i like it even more with rather peppery and tangy  aftertaste. The sweet taste comes from kecap manis or sweet soy sauce and palm sugar while the tangy or polite sour after taste comes from asam gelulur or dried sliced Garcinia atroviridis. You can replace the asam gelugur with tamarind paste or lime juice.

sweet chicken curry recipe

Sweet Chicken Curry in Thick and Rich Coconut Milk & Spices

Malbi ayam or chicken sweet and tangy curry cooking technique is similiar to Kalio (Brown Rendang or Stewed Beef in Spicy Brown Coconut Curry). The chicken is stewed or slow cooked with a constant gently stirring to prevent the spices burned out. Gently heat is needed to make the coconut milk got caramelized and formed a thick and oily broth. Just like other typical Indonesian dish, this sweet chicken curry is usually serve with a lot of deep fried sliced shallot and chopped spring onion.

resep malbi ayam kari ayam manis

Malbi Ayam Khas Palembang

I like to make sweet chicken curry with ayam kampung or malay chicken.  I like to cut the kampung chicken into  a bite size to reduce the cooking time.  Since the kampung chicken is leaner and rather though, you need about 1- 1.5 hours to make it tender and needed more if you cut it into regular size. If you using the regular chicken, it takes nothing more than 40 minutes.

sweet chicken curry indonesian chicken stew recipe

Sweet and Tangy Chicken Curry fron Indonesia


Sweet and tangy Chicken Recipe:

  • 1 kampung chicken (about 1 kg), cut into 20 section (bite size)
  • 2 daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves)
  • 2 sereh (lemongrass), bruised
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp gula merah (palm sugar)
  • 300 ml santan kelapa kental (thick coconut milk)
  • 2 slice asam gelugur *optional*
  • 1 tbsp kelapa sangrai (toasted and grounded coconut pulp) *optional*
  •  3 cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 cup  water
  • salt to taste

Sweet Chicken Curry Spice Paste Recipe:

  • 12 bawang merah (shallots)
  • 8 bawang putih (garlic)
  • 3 cabe merah (chillies) *optional*
  • 1 tbsp lada (white peppercorn)
  • 3 cm ginger
  • a pinch of fennel seed
  • a pinch of caraway seed


  • deep fried shallot
  •  chopped spring onion
  • cilantro leaves or flat leaves parsley


How to make sweet chicken curry :

  • Heat op oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan, saute the spice paste until fragrant
  • Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise and coconut milk, continue to saute another 5 minutes
  • Add the chicken and the rest of ingredients, bring to boil
  • Simmer and continue stirring until the chicken is tender
  • Serve with garnish and steaming hot rice

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18 thoughts on “Sweet & Tangy Chicken Curry (Malbi Ayam) ala Dentist Chef

  1. This or something very similar I had a couple of years ago in Amsterdam – they have fantastic Indonesian restaurants. It was delicious – didn’t know that is was such a slow cooking dish and with all those ingredients. We never give the food we are eating any deeper thoughts when eating on restaurant.
    Great story you tell about the dish and the photos just jumps at me.

  2. I really enjoy sweet and tangy recipes and this looks like a dish that I would really like to try – wonderful array of flavors, great description and recipe and your pictures are just fabulous – the chicken looks so tender and tasty! What a great post!
    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

  3. Lovely recipe ( I like that you mention can substitute with lime juice, I think it will be very refreshing) and nice photos Dedy. Have a great weekend! 😀

  4. Oh my…I just had dinner but I’m getting hungry again and salivating just by looking at your pictures and reading your description about the spices. What a great combination. And I think it’s nice to use leaner chickens, they have a lot more flavor, in my opinion. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Malbi Ayam - Perth Food Snap!

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