Malaysian Food · September 22, 2021

devils curry feature

Devil’s Curry: A Popular Curry Dish from Melaka’s Kristang Community

Devil's Curry: A Popular Curry Dish from Melaka's Kristang Community

Devil’s Curry/Kari Debal/Curry Debal is a very spicy curry dish from the Eurasian Kristang (Cristão) community in Melaka. This curry dish is not just hot, but Malaysia-hot! It gets its spiciness and complexity from a host of fragrant ingredients such as ground mustard seed, galangal, ginger, red chillies, shallots, lemongrass, turmeric, and last but not least, vinegar, which added a sharper taste. The end result is a curry dish that is spice-laden, complex in flavour, tantalizing to the taste buds.

Kristang cuisine blends the cuisines of Southeast Asia with a western-style cuisine inherited from Portuguese colonial rulers. It is often served one or two days after Christmas and on other special occasions.

In the original Kristang, “curry debal” means “leftover curry”. This is because, in the old days, this curry was commonly prepared the day after Christmas with leftover meats from the holiday feast. The similarity of the words “debal” and “devil”, probably paired with spiciness of the dish, lead to it being adopted into the English language as “Devil’s Curry”.

To make this flavourful dish, begin by boiling and grinding the dried chillies. Take the big onions and dice them up, ensuring a fine texture. Next, create a vibrant mix by grinding big onions, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, fresh turmeric, and candlenuts. Blend until you achieve a harmonious and spicy paste. Fry the ginger until it reaches a nice crispiness, then sauté the ground chilli mix along with mustard seeds until the aroma fills the kitchen.

Introduce the chicken and potatoes to this fragrant mixture, allowing them to join in on the celebration. For a tangy twist, splash in some tamarind water and mix it all up until well mixed. To turn up the volume and add an extra layer of flavour, finish it off with a splash of cooking vinegar. Enjoy as they come together to create a delicious and aromatic Devil’s Curry that will surely delight your taste buds.