Assam Curry Chicken Recipe

An easy and delicious, one-pot chicken curry meal that will tantalize your tastebuds.

Assam Curry Chicken

Recently at our Friday fellowship, we celebrated a birthday by having a potluck. Most times, on our regular Friday nights, we end the night with some food but mostly it’s bought food like kolo mee, cakes and snacks. But whenever we have a celebration potluck, we all try to bring something home-cooked. It’s a good time of sharing and also a good time of discovering new foods.

Curry Carnage

One of our friends brought a curry with her. Now, whenever there is curry, there is a swarm of people ready to eat it. Just make sure you have enough rice, and there is no stopping the carnage.

This time, our friend WC, made assam (tamarind) curry chicken. I’ve never had assam curry chicken before, always associating assam curries with fish or seafood so I had no idea how good it would be. Well, let me tell you, it was delicious! And according to WC, who is also a working mom, it was pretty easy. Well, easy is one thing that I can do with these days, so my ears perked up, and I got her to tell me how she made it.

And of course, in the tradition of all Malaysian cooking, it was a non-measured recipe. She told me that she could give me approximations of what she used and I said that was fine. I would go home and figure it out myself. And so as we sat down to eat, Nate whipped out his Blackberry and took notes of the ingredients as she recited it to us.

That weekend, I bought all the ingredients I would need to make it and set out to cook it for a mid-week dinner. And it was easy to make and the best part was that my kids LOVED it and devoured it just as quickly as the adults did. And it made so much that Nate and I had enough to take to lunch the next day!

Assam Curry Chicken

Prep time: 30 minutes, Cook time: 45 minutes


2 kg chicken, chopped into 16-20 pieces
2 Tbsp Madras curry powder
2 tsp salt
5 stalks lemongrass (only the last 6 inches), bruised

Watch Brand Madras Curry Powder

watch brand curry powder

Blend together:

4-7 (Malaysian red chillies are not very spicy so use your chillies based on your heat tolerance), cut into big pieces, seeds removed
6-7 shallots, peeled and rough chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and rough chopped

Spice Paste

blended aromatics for  Assam Chicken Curry

For the curry:

250 g sour tamarind paste (the packet with seeds) mixed with 3 cups water and strained of pulp and seed
2-3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp Madras curry powder
salt to taste
4 Tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Marinate your chicken with 2 Tbsp curry powder, 2 tsp salt, and the stalks of lemongrass. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

    marinating assam chicken with lemongrass

  2. Cook the curry: Heat up a large work or sauté pan. Add the vegetable oil and let that heat up. Next, add in the blended spices and stir that around on medium low heat. Don’t let the spices burn. Continue to sauté for about 2-4 minutes or until you can smell the aroma of the spices coming through.
  3. Add the chicken along with any marinate and lemongrass into the cooked spices and stir over medium high heat. Turn chicken around every so often until chicken pieces have become opaque, about 5-7 minutes.

    Cooking Assam Chicken Curry

  4. Pour strained tamarind juices into the wok with the chicken. Turn heat up to high and let juices come to a boil. Add 3 Tbsp more of curry powder. Once it has come to a boil, stir and lower heat to simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every so often.
  5. Add sugar and salt to taste. Stir and simmer again for another 15-20 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  6. Serve assam chicken over plenty of rice.

Assam Curry Chicken

Assam Chicken Curry

If I had thought it through even more carefully, I could have added some other vegetables to the curry and it would have been a one-pot meal! Next time, I’ll remember to add some long beans, eggplant and okra when I’m cooking this (all vegetables that I would add to fish assam curry so why not into chicken?).

So thank you WC for the yummy recipe! I can’t wait for you to share more of your food with us at the next potluck.


Cheers, Annie

For its use of tamarind, I am entering this post in this week’s edition of Weekend Herb Blogging, organized and hosted by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything.

Other curry recipes using tamarind:
Assamese Sour Fish Curry on Rosa’s Yummy Yums
Assam Pedas Fish on Rasa Malaysia
Chicken Curry with Tamarind on
Pineapple Shrimp Curry on The Perfect Pantry
Assam Curry Stingray Tail on Kong-Kay

17 thoughts on “Assam Curry Chicken Recipe”

  1. Yuuuum…I do adore curry. I’ve mostly associated it with fish heads though. The curry chicken I know is a bit different, but I like this version better. It’s less greasy and cloying.

  2. Yummy, will cook this for our dinner party tomorrow. Is Madras curry powder quite different than Malaysian curry powder?

    1. I think it is similar. Perhaps the difference is in the ratio of spices. Madras curry powder, to me, seems to have more turmeric in it.

      1. Very sorry to hear abt your grandma’s passing. It couldn’t have been more timely that you caught up with her only recently.

        Would like to double check amount of tamarind paste. Above recipe says 1 pkg with a link to a 454gm pack of assam. That is a lot of assam. I added almost a full pack thinking maybe the curry powder will overpower and it was way too sour.

        Also, I tried this with Baba curry powder, it turned out fine except for the excessive sour taste.

        1. Dorach,

          thanks for the feedback. Our packet actually is 300 gm so I will edit our recipe to make sure that is specified.

  3. Hi Annie,
    Is Madras curry powder a must for this recipe?
    I only have the Baba curry powder I brought from home. Can I substitute with Baby curry powder instead?
    Can’t wait to try it.


    1. Sandrine, I think you can use Baba curry powder. It should be fine though Baba’s might be spicier so add according to your own taste. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  4. Hi,

    I would like to try this recipe but here in Portugal, it’s difficult for me to find lemongrass. Can I replace with something else??? Lemon zest?? lemon juice?


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