Auntie Ruby's Dry Chicken Curry - A Taste of Yesterday

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I grew up loving my Mum's curry chicken which she cooked very often.

I have made her recipe many times. But it was when I started using the Anxin "naked-necked" chicken of late that some memories returned on how hers used to taste like.  

A day trip was all it took for me to learn about the chicken we use today. It answered many curious questions I had about the types of chicken we used today and it tasted differently from the ones I grew up eating.

My mum's curry version is of the drier variation. If you hope to dip your bread into watery santan, then hers is not what you will expect. It still taste fantastic with bread as you pick up the dry curry where you can still taste bits of the shallots, candle-nuts or lemon grass you used. If you use this "naked-neck" chicken (sometimes called "Kampung Chicken" - though I think this chick deserves a better name than that), you will notice that the meat is not soft and mushy in the curry. It has a good flavour and bite and goes well with concentrated curry paste.

I have been busy of late but I guided my Mum in law's helper in cooking a version of this. She liked it very much and asked for a written recipe. I thought it will be good if I post a simple recipe for her here. And you can eavesdrop :). She is not experienced when it come to our local recipes and if she can reproduce this (and she did), I am sure you can too.

The recipe is simple and I will keep it that way.

Beautiful Bare-neck Chicken  (Anxin brand)
Auntie Ruby Dry Curry Chicken Recipe

1 "bare-neck" or Kampung Chicken (about 1.6 kg)

Ingredients for the paste:

To blend:
20 pieces of shallots (peeled)
10 pieces of garlic (peeled)
3 stalks of lemon grass (white part only, lower half)
2 inch yellow ginger (tumeric, kunyit)
6 pieces of candlenut
20 pieces of dried chillies (soaked in water for 15 mins)

2 tsp of salt (or more to taste)
2 tsp of sugar
A bowl of oil (about 300 ml)
2 tbsp of curry powder
1 packet of coconut milk (200 ml pack)
6 pieces of yellow flesh potatoes (peeled and quartered)
A bunch of curry leaves (optional)
1 glass of water.
  1. Cut the chicken into medium-sized pieces i.e. halve the drumstick, wing cut at the joint. 
  2. Blend the ingredients coarsely.
  3. Heat up the oil in the wok and fry the blended ingredients in low flame for about 15 minutes till fragrant. Add curry powder, curry leaves, salt and sugar. If you prefer your curry to be spicier, add some chilli padi. 
  4. Add the chicken pieces and gently simmer for 30 minutes and it will be done. Add a glass of water along the way and monitor to ensure the bottom is not burning.
  5. At the 15 minute mark, add the potatoes. At the 25 minute mark, add the coconut milk. 
  6. When you are finishing, adjust the saltiness of the curry if you need to. 

Best eaten with rice or white bread. Serve it slightly warmed.

Peeled shallots. One stall in Ghim Moh market sell ready-peeled ones (the stall nearest to the uncovered carpark)
The curry is done.

  1. For the paste, use good ingredients. For the shallot, use the pointed type as they are sweeter. 
  2. The amount of paste and the ratio of the ingredients is determined by the amount of shallots you use. You can choose to have more or less paste but do try to keep to the ratio. Note that the onion:garlic ratio is 2:1. 
  3. Turmeric powder won't do. Use fresh tumeric. 
  4. Dry chillies are more intense and I prefer them over fresh chillies. 
  5. The curry paste can be stored in the fridge or freezer. You can make more for future batches.
  6. Use fresh curry powder. This is just a convenient way to add spices (i.e. cumin, fennel. coriander etc). If you have the spice seeds, toast and use them.
  7. You need oil to make good curry. You can skim off some of them after you have cooked the dish. 
  8. As a general rule, for drier curries, the chicken pieces can be cut larger
  9. The curry will taste even better a few hours after it is done. It stores well in the fridge or freezer.
  10. Remember, any dish with Santan (coconut milk) do not keep well. It is important to fridge the chicken curry if you are eating later. The potatoes will also taste starchy after some time. If you intend to cook your curry to be eaten over a few days, either leave out the potatoes or cook them separately and add for every batch. If you are eating it within one or two days, it will be alright. 
As you can see, it is not difficult to cook this well. Use a good chicken, use good ingredients and with a sensible palate, it will be a sure winner. Hey - a good curry need to be salty enough as it will enhance the flavours of the spices. Just don't overdo it.

Give it a try. 

You Might Also Like


  1. Hi there - love your blog and all your documenting of Auntie Ruby's delicious looking recipes! For this one could you please clarify what "a bowl of oil" and '1 packet of coconut milk" should be in liquid measurement terms (i.e. in milliliters) as I don't want to over/under do the quantities. Thanks so much!

  2. Sounds delicious. Just to clarify - do you mean 20 garlic cloves or the 20 pieces of garlic?

  3. I have updated the recipe to clarify on the measurements. Do let me know if there is something else which is still not clear.

  4. Added Tip 2:
    "The amount of paste and the ratio of the ingredients is determined by the amount of shallots you use. You can choose to have more or less paste but do try to keep to the ratio. Note that the onion:garlic ratio is 2:1."

  5. Where can I get a Bare-neck Chicken (Anxin brand)? Tks!



  6. Hi, Can you provide the ingredients for your fresh curry powder? I am also interested make my own batches. Thanks

  7. Basically:
    cumin seeds
    coriander seeds (ratio - I normally use 2 coriander to 1 cumin)

    Grind your Cinammon Sticks if you can find the quill type
    Star Aniseed & Cloves too if you like.

  8. My mum calls this bare-necked chicken the Holland chicken.

    1. Yes, I can recall my mum saying the same thing too.

  9. Once I got the chance to try this Holland chicken, it tests pretty good and milky. Nice experience though!

  10. I had about the types\/ of chicken we used today and it tasted differently from the ones I grew up eating.

  11. The dry chicken curry will be more tasty as the chicken meat have absorbed the essence of the curry. Maybe we can do this with the red hot curry chicken, that will be much more spicy.