Opor ayam

Opor ayam

Leanne Kitchen

This classic central Javanese chicken stew is good to serve to non-chilli-loving friends as, although it contains plenty of spices, it isn’t hot. In Java it’s popular during Eid ul-fitr, the feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan. It’s also served as part of one of our favourite dishes of all time, gudeg, which you find in Yogyakarta. It’s an incredibly sweet stew of young jackfruit, served for breakfast with opor ayam and a sambal of beef skin, among other things.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.8kg chicken
60ml vegetable oil
400ml coconut milk
375ml Chicken stock
or 375ml water
1 lemongrass stem, bruised and tied in a knot
8 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar
Fried shallots, to garnish
Roasted coconut and peanuts, to garnish


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 garlic cloves, chopped
8 red asian shallots, chopped
6 candlenuts, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh galangal
1 tablespoon trasi (indonesian shrimp paste)


  1. For the paste, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until a coarse paste forms. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.
  2. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the chicken through the bone between the leg and the body to remove the leg quarters. Put the remaining chicken on a chopping board, breast side up, and cut through either side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and discard. Put the chicken, skin side down, on the board, and cut in half down the breast bone. You should have 4 pieces of chicken.
  3. Add the oil to a large wok over medium–high heat, swirling to coat the surface. Add the chicken and cook for about 8 minutes, turning once, until light golden all over. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok. Reduce the heat to medium, add the paste and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, spices and palm sugar and return the chicken to the wok – the chicken will not be completely covered. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes or until tender, turning the chicken halfway through. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve garnished with the fried shallots and roasted coconut and peanuts.
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