I was inspired to cook this dish mostly due to the recent “Eid” or “Raya Aidilfitri” festivities celebrated by the Muslims. I can so clearly remember growing up in Malaysia, whenever Raya comes around I look forward to visiting our Muslim friends at their Open House to eat the rendang, curries, and especially the lemang (traditional food originated from the Iban people in Borneo – PS my mom is Iban, therefore I am half Iban! – made of glutinous rice and coconut milk and cooked in a hollowed bamboo stick lined with banana leaves in order to prevent the rice from sticking to the bamboo).
This dish, “Ayam Masak Merah” or directly translated as Red Cooked Chicken is one of the many common dishes served up during the festivities. It is a tomato based dish, can be spicy but can also be tweaked to be less spicy and more sweet to suit your taste.
My dinner guests tonight absolutely loved it – and I was also quite happy with how it turned out 🙂 Not bad at all for a first effort in testing this recipe!
Recipe from MalaysiaFood.net
- 1.5kg whole chicken, cut into 8-10 parts
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- Sufficient peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 cup red onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp ginger, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can tomato puree
- 4 tbsp chilli paste (medium hot, reduce to 2-3 tbsp for mild)
- 3 tbsp hot chilli sauce, or to taste
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp dark sweet soy sauce
- 1 large onion, cut into rings
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups water
- 3-4 kaffir lime leaves (substitute: zest of 1 lime)
- 2-3 pandan leaves (optional)
- Vegetable oil for pan frying
- A few sprigs fresh coriander leaves for garnish
1. Lightly coat chicken pieces with turmeric powder and salt, let stand for 30 mins.
2. Heat wok or pot on high, add sufficient peanut or vegetable oil to fry chicken (wait until oil is hot). Fry chicken in batches until light golden brown, drain on a metal rack or paper towels, set aside.
(This photo shows some ingredients not in recipe as I was also cooking a simple vegetable stirfry to accompany this dish)
3. Pour off all but 4 tbsp of oil, add red onions, ginger, garlic, stir-fry a few seconds, add chilli paste and stir-fry 1-2 mins.
4. Add hot chilli sauce, tomato puree, tomato sauce, dark sweet soy sauce, sugar and salt to taste. Then stir-fry 1 min.
5. Add kaffir lime leaves (or lime zest), pandan leaves (optional), 2 cups water, bring to a rapid boil, immediately reduce heat to med, simmer uncovered 10 mins.
6. Add chicken, stir well to coat evenly with sauce.
7. Bring to boil again, then reduce heat to low, cover, simmer slowly (for chicken to “absorb” the sauce), about 25-35 mins.
8. Add onion rings, simmer for 3-5 mins, onion rings should have a slight crunch.
9. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves (optional) and serve with steamed rice.
I served with Coconut Rice (rice, water, light coconut cream, sugar and salt) and Stir Fried Carrots, Green Beans, Spring Onions & Mushrooms with Garlic.