How To Use Malaysian Curry Powder

I grew up with Malaysian curry powder – we used it in all our cooking; not just in curries. It was (and still is) so much a part of my life that it took my own daughter, Becky, (yes, I do have a grown-up daughter who’s married with a kid, etc.) to make me appreciate its distinctive flavour. 

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Becky called me up one day to ask for the recipe for my Malaysian Chicken Curry, which she had been sorely missing since I closed my restaurant and stopped producing my range of frozen meals. I pointed her to a food blog by some random called Jackie M – – and sent her on her way. (My daughter goes out of her way to avoid my public persona, as does most of my extended family – no, I’m not bitter about it. Really.)

Anyway, apparently I’d forgotten to emphasize the “Malaysian” in the curry powder listed in the recipe, so she picked up something from some other country. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped. I’m not suggesting, of course, that other curry powders are inferior etc. – just that if you want Malaysian flavours, it’s generally advisable to stick with Malaysian ingredients.

Stingray Curry by Jackie M.

So what if you do come across some Malaysian curry powder? Firstly, as I’ve mentioned in the past, Malaysian brands of curry powder usually come in several iterations, with fish curry powder and meat curry powder being the most commonly available. I always make sure to stock up on all of them.

  1. They’re vegetarian – the “fish” and “meat” designations just means they’re used for cooking fish curry or meat curry etc.
  2. You can mix and match them – the lamb curry in my frozen meal range back in the day – one of my top sellers – was made with fish curry powder
  3. Most Malaysian households use curry powder in their curries – there’s no shame in not roasting and grinding your spices from scratch; in fact I have zero recollection of my own parents (ie. the generation before mine) roasting and pounding their own spices

What types of curries can you use Malaysian curry powder in? I use it in my chicken curry, lamb curry, fish curry, vegetable curry and – get this – to make beef rendang. It sounds obvious to Malaysians, but probably not so to many Westerners, but yes, my famous beef rendang (and my stepmom’s before me) is made using Malaysian curry powder.

Beef Rendang by Jackie M. (with my Lenovo Yoga in the background)

Beef Rendang by Jackie M. (with my Lenovo Yoga in the background)

Before I was cooking curries though, as a kid, I used to add curry powder to my instant noodles (or instant ramen as they tend to be called nowadays). It’s also a key ingredient in my curry laksa and my otak-otak (grilled spicy fish cake in banana leaf) plus my stepmom used to add it to her satay marinade. 

Curry Laksa by Jackie M.

If you’d like the tips I shared in the video above sent to your inbox, make sure you sign up to my email list – – I’ll also send you recipes and keep you up-to-date on my cooking videos, lessons, Lives and everything else around Malaysian food. 

Instant Ramen with added Malaysian Curry Powder

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