Chefs' Recipes

Chui Lee Luk's chicken curry with pickled pineapple

This creamy coconut and lemongrass curry is pure home-cooked comfort.

By Chui Lee Luk
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 1 hr cooking plus pickling, marinating
  • Serves 4
  • Print
"Chicken curry with accompaniments was the equivalent of a roast dinner in our family when I was growing up," says Chui Lee Luk, formerly of Sydney's Fujisaki and Claude's. "The scent of all the spices and aromatics, which were pounded in a mortar and pestle, would waft out of the kitchen, and it would seem an age before we got to sit down to enjoy it."


  • 1 chicken (about 1.5kg) , jointed into 12 pieces
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 15 gm (about 3cm) ginger
  • 1 tsp belacan, roasted (see note)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised and cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 star anise
  • 450 gm (about 3 small) sebago potatoes, quartered
  • 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk
  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 3 tsp grated palm sugar, or to taste
  • Steamed rice, to serve
Pickled pineapple
  • 10 small garlic cloves
  • 5 long red chillies, chopped
  • 30 gm (about 6cm) ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 30 gm (about 6cm) galangal, finely grated
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) canola oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 55 gm (1⁄4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 ripe pineapple (about 1kg), cut into 2cm pieces
Curry powder
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 4 dried red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric


  • 1
    For pickled pineapple, blend garlic, chilli, ginger, galangal, lemongrass and turmeric in a small food processor until smooth, adding a little oil to loosen if necessary. Heat oil in a saucepan over low heat and fry paste until it darkens slightly (20 minutes), then stir in vinegar, sugar and 1 tsp salt. Remove from heat and cool, then add pineapple, stir to coat, and refrigerate to marinate (1 hour).
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180°C. For curry powder, dry-roast ingredients (except chillies peppercorns and turmeric) until fragrant (10 minutes). Finely grind chillies with a mortar and pestle, add roasted spices and peppercorns, finely grind, then stir in turmeric.
  • 3
    Place chicken in a large bowl, rub with 1 tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp salt and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, pound onion, garlic, ginger and belacan to a smooth paste with a mortar and pestle. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and fry paste until fragrant and onion is cooked out (5-6 minutes). Add lemongrass, star anise and remaining curry powder and fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add chicken and 250ml water, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is half-cooked (15 minutes). Add potato, coconut milk and curry leaves, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender and chicken is cooked (25-30 minutes). Season with salt and palm sugar and serve with rice and pineapple pickle.


Belacan is a shrimp paste available from Asian grocers. To roast it, wrap it in foil and roast in a 180°C oven for 10 minutes.
Drink suggestion: Fully mature bottle-aged Eden Valley riesling. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.