Norman Musa’s Kalio Chicken Curry

This fragrant and flavoursome Indonesian chicken curry is a must for anyone who loves the flavours of a rendang but favours a wetter version. It’s quick to cook too, as the liquid ingredients don’t need to be reduced as much as they do in a traditional dry rendang. The recipe comes from Bowlful by Norman Musa.

We enjoyed this for a midweek meal and were really pleased with how straightforward it was to make and how delicious it was to eat!

Kalio Chicken Curry

Read our in-depth review of Bowlful by Norman Musa.

Kalio Chicken Curry

If you enjoy the popular dish Rendang, either with chicken or beef, Kalio will certainly be another favourite. The sauce is thick and creamy, not dry like Rendang, but the flavour is almost the same, except that it contains no toasted coconut and is also quicker to cook.
Servings 4 people
Author Norman Musa


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 kg (2lb 4oz )boneless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
  • 200 ml (7fl oz / scant 1 cup) coconut milk
  • 6 makrut lime leaves, ribs removed and thinly sliced
  • jasmine rice, to serve

For the paste

  • 1 banana shallot, peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2.5 cm (1 in) ginger
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed
  • 5 cm (2 in) galangal or ginger with 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 red chillies, deseeded
  • 5 cm (2 in) fresh turmeric, peeled, or 1 tsp ground turmeric


  • Blitz together the paste ingredients with 2 tablespoons of water using a handheld stick blender or food processor until fine and smooth. Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan over a medium heat and cook the paste for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Next, add the tamarind, salt and sugar, continue to cook for 1 minute and then stir in the chicken. Cook for 3 minutes to seal and then stir in the coconut milk, together with 200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  • Next, add the kaffir lime leaves, give everything a good stir and turn off the heat. Divide the curry between four serving bowls, and serve with jasmine rice.

It’s worth making a double batch too, as the leftovers are just as excellent reheated!

Kalio Chicken Curry

Made the recipe? Leave a comment below to let us know how you got on!

You may also enjoy these Indonesian recipes. You can also view all South East Asian recipes.

Browse our full collection of curry recipes from around the world.


This recipe extract from Bowlful: Fresh and vibrant dishes from Southeast Asia by Norman Musa is reproduced with permission from publishers Pavilion. Book photography by Luke J Albert. Home photography by Kavita Favelle.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
4 Comments to "Norman Musa’s Kalio Chicken Curry"

  1. Bowl Sunset

    This Kalio Chicken Curry recipe looks delicious! I love the combination of tamarind and palm sugar – what a great way to add depth of flavour to this midweek meal. I’m looking forward to giving it a try! How would you recommend serving this curry?


Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating