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the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
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Samlor Kari Moan
Chicken Curry


Traditionally, in the making of various Khmer curries, coconut cream is first boiled until oil is separated from the cream.  Then, the curry paste is fried in the oil until fragrant, then other ingredients are added. The coconut milk is added to the curry at a later stage. 

If tinned coconut cream is used, and if the recipe calls for coconut cream and coconut milk separately, the principle is the same. You will find the cream at the top half of the tin, and the coconut milk at the bottom. 

Before the advent of tinned coconut cream, in Cambodia, chicken curry was not an everyday dish. This is because it takes so long to prepare. However, chicken curry has always been an all time favourite dish in Cambodia.  

In rural areas, chicken curry is traditional and very popular for special occasions and celebrations. This is because most households, especially in rural areas, grow coconut trees and potatoes, and keep their own livestock including several chickens which they raise from little chicks. This is good for economical, practical and health reasons. They don’t have to go out and spend money; the chicken is available to them when needed; and they cannot have a fresher and better organic chicken than their own from the back yard – the only thing is they have to catch it first!


Serves 4-6 


Oil 3 Tbsp
Kroeung kari / red curry paste 2 Tbsp
(recipe for red curry paste)
Chicken1 450g/1 lb, cut into thick slices (or in chunks if using chicken meat with bones)
Fish sauce 2 Tbsp
Sugar 1Tbsp – add more if desired
Salt 1 tsp
Coconut cream 1½ tins x 400 ml (¾ pt)
Water ½ cup
Sweet Potatoes/potatoes2 300g/11 oz, peeled and cut into 4 cm/1.5 inch chunks
Medium onion 1, cut into wedges (or roughly chopped if preferred)
Kaffir lime leaves 4
String beans or French beans 1 handful, cut into 4 cm/ 1.5 inch (optional) 


1. Heat the oil in a heavy base pot over medium heat until hot. Fry the red curry paste for 2 minutes stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add two tablespoons of the coconut cream when the frying paste is too dry.

2. When fragrant, add chicken and continue frying for 2 minutes or until chicken is well coated with the spice paste, then stir in the fish sauce, sugar and kaffir lime leaves. Cook for another 3 minutes. 

3. Add the rest of the coconut cream, water, potatoes, onion and beans, if using, and mix well. Bring to the boil. Then simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until the chicken and the potatoes are tender and the curry is thick. Stir from time to time to avoid burning. Remove from heat3. Transfer to a serving dish. This curry dish can be enjoyed with steamed rice, rice noodles4 or French bread. 


1  The dish can also be made with pork or beef.

2 To enhance the taste and texture, you can fry the potatoes for about 10 minutes in very hot oil until pale golden in colour before adding to the curry. 

3 I recommend cooking this dish the night before and keeping it in the fridge. This will allow the flavour to really mingle in the curry. 

4 If served with Khmer noodles, it should normally be accompanied by some fresh vegetables such as blanched bean sprouts, shredded cucumber, finely grated green papaya and lime/lemon wedges.  In northern regions of Cambodia, people also enjoy this with some thinly sliced pickled mustard greens.