Lai Yao Kei 奶油鸡 (Malaysian Butter Chicken)

Butter Chicken, but not as most of us know it!

Now obviously I’m a tad biased, but when I fancy some Butter Chicken it typically isn’t the Indian variety I’m hankering after. More often than not, what I’m really craving is actually something altogether different.

Indeed, Lai Yao Kei (Malaysian Butter Chicken) is about a million miles away from what most of us imagine when we think of Butter Chicken. In fact, I’d go so far as arguing this wonderful Malaysian dish, is in a league of its own. Unlike the oft mangled classic that is Indian butter chicken, the Malaysian version is an altogether different beast.

Unlike the Indian alliteration, there are no overnight or penetrative marinates here. Instead, flavoured morsels of chicken are ready for the deep-fryer in less than an hour, and smothered in a super quick creamy aromatic sauce. Infused with the unmistakable aroma of fresh curry leaves, and spiked with the heat from fresh chilies, the sauce itself is actually very simple and comes together in minutes.

Though you’d think the butter would be the star of the show here, it is actually the evaporated milk that steals the limelight. Admittedly, evaporated milk is probably the last ingredient you’d expect to find in a savoury sauce, but trust me, it works a treat and will blow your mind!

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

Lai Yao Kei 奶油鸡 (Malaysian Butter Chicken): Serves 4


  • 4 skinned boned chicken breasts, or 6 skinned boned thighs
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • Salt
  • 1/4 ground white pepper
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

Butter Sauce:

  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tin (410ml) evaporated milk
  • 20-30 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 fresh red chilies, cut into thirds


  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces
  2. In a bowl, mix together the curry powder and white pepper. Add the beaten egg, and salt to taste.
  3. Add the chicken and mix to combine.
  4. Marinate the meat for about an hour if possible, but as little as 10 minutes will suffice.
  5. In a pot/wok, melt the butter
  6. Add the curry leaves and fry till fragrant
  7. Pour in the evaporated milk and bring to a boil
  8. Reduce heat and simmer till the sauce thickens slightly
  9. Add the chilies and a good pinch of salt, then continue simmering for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce reaches a coating consistency
  10. Whilst the sauce is cooking, heat up enough oil to shallow fry the meat in a separate pot/wok
  11. Mix together the plain flour and cornflour
  12. Coat the marinated chicken in the flour and fry in batches till golden
  13. Add the cooked chicken to the thickened sauce, and toss till coated
  14. Serve immediately

Serve with: some plain rice and some spicy fried green bean sambal 

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here