Devil's curry

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Devil curry
Alternative namesCurry Debal
Created byKristang People, Malaccan Portuguese
Main ingredientsCurry, candlenuts, galangal, vinegar

Devil curry also known as curry Debal in Kristang is a very spicy curry flavoured with candlenuts, galangal, mustard seed and vinegar from the Eurasian Kristang (Cristão) culinary tradition in Malacca, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Indo-Dutch diaspora (where it is known as Ayam ore Daging Setan).[1] It was historically served one or two days after Christmas and on other special occasions.[2][3]

Kristang cuisine blends the cuisines of Southeast Asia with a western-style cuisine inherited from Portuguese colonial rulers. Debal Curry traces its roots to the Goan Vindahlo which also features vinegar as an important component inherited from Portuguese culinary traditions. Other popular Kristang dishes include Feng, Eurasian Smore (a beef stew), and sugee cake.[4]


In the original Kristang, "Debal" means "leftover", as it is often served one or two days after Christmas and made out of leftovers from the Christmas meal.[5] It is now however a regular menu item in Eurasian homes made from fresh ingredients. 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 curry".[2][6] The term "deviled", in reference to food is often used with spicy or zesty food, including foods prepared with mustard as an ingredient.

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  1. ^ Oost-Indisch Kookboek / pag. 150 / Ajam setan / 1896 /
  2. ^ a b Pereira, Quentin (2012). Eurasian Heritage Cooking. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. p. 154. ISBN 978-981-4435-10-9.
  3. ^ Gomes, Mary (2016). Mary Gomes: Food for Family and Friends. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. p. 31. ISBN 978-981-4751-16-2.
  4. ^ Ebrahim, Naleeza; Yee, Yaw Yan (2006). Singapore: An Introduction to What Where When to Eat in the City. Not Just a Food Guide. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish. p. 21. ISBN 978-981-232-922-6.
  5. ^ Bloor, Azlin (2021-11-23). "Curry Devil (aka Kari Debal, a Eurasian Christmas Recipe)". Singaporean and Malaysian Recipes. Retrieved 2022-09-23.
  6. ^ Pereira, Alexius (2018). "Eurasian Community and Culture in Singapore". In Mathews, Mathew (ed.). Singapore Ethnic Mosaic, The: Many Cultures, One People. Singapore: World Scientific. p. 393. ISBN 978-981-323-475-8.

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