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Portuguese devil curry recipe

By Debbie Teoh
21 July 2010 5:14 PM Updated 05 Sep 2011

Portuguese devil curry recipe

The real name of this dish is “debal curry”. It is one of the most sought after dishes when one travels to Malacca. There is no coconut milk used, instead, vinegar is added to make the curry tangy and appetising. The traditional recipe uses roast pork. However, the modern-day combination of chicken with roast pork balances the dish well. Let the curry sit overnight to allow the flavours to blend in. The longer it is kept, the better it tastes.


Serves 4-6



6-8 tablespoons cooking oil


Spice paste

20 stalks dried chillies, soaked and cut into 3cm lengths

15 shallots peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled

3 candlenuts

3 stalks lemon grass

20g galangal

2cm turmeric, skinned


1 teaspoon mustard seeds, ground coarsely

350g chicken, chopped into bite size

350g roast pork, cut into 2cm (may be replaced with chicken)

500ml water

1½ tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

Salt to taste



1. Using an electric blender, finely grind spice paste ingredients.

2. In a wok, sauté spice paste until fragrant, stirring continuously to prevent burning.

3. Add mustard seeds and sauté for another 15 seconds before adding the chicken pieces and roast pork. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add water and vinegar.

4. Simmer over low to medium heat or until chicken is tender, adjusting seasonings to taste.

5. Keep it in the refrigerator and overnight. Reheat before serving. Add a little water if gravy becomes too thick.


With more than 10 years experience in the food industry, Debbie is a true-bred Nyonya who hails from Malacca. She is the author of numerous cookbooks, including “UNDERWRAPS” by Marshall Cavendish Cuisine and “Penang Food Guide & Cookbook” and “Nyonya Flavours” by Star Publications. Debbie develops and tests recipes for companies, and contributes to magazines. She is also a Nyonya food consultant for Tourism Malaysia.

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