Rotisserie chicken

Rotisserie chicken

Ayam golek

Street Food Asia
4–6 As part o f a shared me al
Alan Benson

The sight of chickens cooking on a rotisserie is a common one on the busy highways of Kuala Lumpur and, as I kept seeing them, I was keen to get to the bottom of their lovely burnished colour and incredible spicy aroma. If you’ve ever travelled in Malaysia (or Indonesia) you’ll know the locals go crazy for grilled and roasted chicken and they do it so well that it’s often one of the best things you’ll eat when you visit. This is a particularly popular dish to eat during Ramadan, although it’s around all year long, and you’ll find different versions of it in every Malaysian state. The chickens are actually cooked twice – the first time by simmering them in a sweet, spicy, coconutty braising liquid and the second by roasting. By the time they’re finished, they’re unbelievably juicy and succulent and infused with gorgeous flavours. You might have a rotisserie set-up at home, but if you don’t, you can roast the chicken very successfully in the oven. Just remember to rest your cooked bird for 15 minutes before carving it as this allows all the juices to settle back into the meat.


Quantity Ingredient
3 lemongrass stems, bruised, white part only
250ml coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons liquid palm sugar (see glossary) or shaved palm sugar (jaggery)
1 tablespoon honey
1 x 1.5kg whole chicken, at room temperature

Spice paste

Quantity Ingredient
6 dried chillies, seeded
6cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 can piece of galangal, peeled and chopped
8 red asian shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4cm piece of turmeric, peeled and chopped
1 candlenut, (see glossary)
3 tablespoons Tamarind water

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
steamed jasmine rice
lebanese cucumber, sliced
tomatoes, sliced


  1. To make the spice paste, pound the ingredients together into a fine paste using a large mortar and pestle, or in a food processor.
  2. Transfer the spice paste to a wok, then add the lemongrass, coconut milk, salt, palm sugar, honey and 250 ml water and bring to the boil.
  3. Carefully lower the chicken, breast side first, into the wok and return to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  5. Turn the chicken over and simmer, covered, for a further 20 minutes, then remove the chicken from the sauce and place on the prepared baking tray. Roast for 25 minutes or until golden in colour.
  6. Meanwhile, continue to simmer the sauce over a medium–high heat for 15 minutes, or until thickened and reduced by half.
  7. Reduce the heat to 180°C. Baste the chicken generously all over with the reduced sauce, then continue to roast for a further 20 minutes until the chicken is dark golden and cooked through.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with steamed rice and sliced cucumber and tomato.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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