Malaysian Coconut Chicken

Malaysian Coconut Chicken

Malaysian Coconut Chicken

Fish or fowl?“, I texted Mrs. Paleovirtus, enquiring as to her dinner preferences.

Bird it must be!“, came the reply.

Right you are. Message received and understood.

I was in the mood for something a bit different, and perusing the cookbook bookshelf spotted a near-forgotten tome on the bottom shelf.

The Essential Asian Cookbook” attempts, as you can probably imagine, to compress the culinary traditions of the entire continent into one volume, producing a kind of “greatest hits” list for each country.

It’s a bit hit-and-miss, but, to be fair, when things work, they’re absolutely spot on.

Scanning the index under “chicken”, this recipe quickly caught my eye.

I have to admit, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about the food of Malaysia, but the short description of the dish, noting influences from both Thailand and India, made my mind up for me. Definitely worth a punt.

As it turned out, I’m very glad I did! Mrs. Paleovirtus and I were very impressed with the results, so much in fact that it was instantly promoted to the hallowed “We’re Having This Again” list!

Paleovirtus Jr, a gold medal winner in the Picky Eater Marathon, finished a whole portion, even going so far as to proclaim that it “tasted nice“. Believe you me, there is no higher praise than that.

The taste was very interesting – you could certainly feel the influences from Thailand and India, but working together they made something that was somehow much more than the sum of the constituent parts.

I’ll certainly be looking again at that chapter on Malaysia, that’s for sure.

Malaysian Coconut Chicken


  • 1kg chicken pieces
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 birds eye chillies, finely chopped
  • ½ cup of desiccated coconut
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • 3 tbsp dried curry leaves
  • 565ml coconut milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • coconut oil


  • Place the turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, and salt and black pepper to taste in a small bowl. Add just enough water to produce a thin paste. Stir well, and set aside.
  • Cut the lemon grass into thirds, and lightly bruise. Set aside.
  • Heat 4 tbsp of coconut oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the onions, and stir fry until they have begun to soften, about 5 minutes or so.
  • Add the garlic and chillies. Continue to stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
  • Add the desiccated coconut, and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
  • Add the water and spice mixture, and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk, lemon grass, and dried curry leaves. Mix well. Bring up to a low simmer, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the pan. Bring back to a low simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, and the sauce has reduced down – keep a close eye on things after the 40 minute mark, but it may well take up to an hour until the chicken is ready, i.e. when breast pieces are white all the way through, and juices from pieces on the bone run clear.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Serve, together with a side of cauliflower rice.


2 thoughts on “Malaysian Coconut Chicken

    1. paleovirtus Post author

      You’re welcome. 🙂

      It was quite an eye-opener for us, too, an area of Asian cuisine we hadn’t really touched on before.

      We’re very impressed – definitely more to come… 🙂



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