Indonesian Chicken Curry with Pineapple (Gulai Ayam Nanas)

This quick and delicious chicken curry with pineapple hails from South Sumatra in Indonesia, and is one of the many delicious recipes to be found in Petty Pandean-Elliott’s The Indonesian Table. It’s a mild and soupy curry with delicate flavours and a fragrant aroma.

Indonesian Chicken Curry and Pineapple (Gulai Ayam Nanas)

Read my in-depth review of The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliott.

Once you’ve made the yellow spice paste, it takes only 10 minutes to prep the rest of the ingredients and 20 minutes to cook the dish.

Indonesian Chicken Curry with Pineapple (Gulai Ayam Nanas)

South Sumatra has a rich and fascinating history, and the city of Palembang was formerly the base of the Srivijaya – a Malay Buddhist empire – in the seventh century. It was one of the most important trading hubs between China and Persia but also a centre for Buddhist learnings where monks from India, China and Java gathered. This soupy curry is milder and more delicate than those from the northern part of the island. This recipe’s inspiration was drawn from a dish of fish dumplings in a turmeric- coconut broth (celimpungan) but with a pineapple twist.
Servings 4
Author Petty Pandean-Elliott


Yellow Spice Paste (Bumbu Kuning)

  • 2 candlenuts or macadamia nuts, coarsely ground (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2-3 banana shallots, sliced
  • 20 g (3⁄4 oz) fresh root ginger, sliced
  • 10 g (1⁄4 oz) galangal, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 bird's eye chillies, coarsley chopped
  • 2 large chillie, coarsely chopped
  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) fresh turmeric or 1-2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Chicken Curry

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz / 1⁄4 cup) coconut oil or sunflower oil
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 2-cm (3⁄4 -inch) cubes
  • 4 makrut lime leaves, torn
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed and tied into a knot
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz / 1 2⁄3) cups coconut milk
  • 1 large red chilli, thinly sliced, to garnish


Yellow Spice Paste

  • If using the candlenuts, heat a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the candlenuts and dry-roast for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a small blender and blend into a smooth paste.

Chicken Curry

  • Season the chicken with salt, pepper and lime juice. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the yellow spice paste and cook for 4–5 minutes. Add the chicken, pineapple, lime leaves and lemongrass and mix well. Cook for 1–2 minutes, then pour half of the coconut milk and 400 ml of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10–12 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the pineapple is softened. Add the remaining coconut milk. Season to taste. Discard the lemongrass and lime leaves.
  • Garnish with the chilli and serve with steamed rice and vegetables.

This is a great dish to make on a weeknight evening as once the paste is made, it’s quick to prep and cook and is really delicious.

Indonesian Chicken Curry and Pineapple Indonesian Chicken Curry and Pineapple (Gulai Ayam Nanas)

You may also enjoy more Indonesian recipes and content, here.


Recipe from The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliott published with permission from Phaidon Press. Book photography by Yuki Sugiura, all other images by Kavita Favelle. 

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