Opor Ayam – Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk

Opor ayam is a chicken cooked in coconut milk from Indonesia, especially from Central Java. The spice mixture (bumbu) can include galangal, lemongrass, cinnamon, tamarind juice, palm sugar, coriander, cumin, candlenut, garlic, shallot, and pepper. Opor ayam is a popular dish for lebaran or Eid ul-Fitr, usually eaten with ketupat and sambal goreng ati (beef liver in sambal).


Opor Ayam - Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 fresh red chilli, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 6 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 cm piece galangal, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 5 cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
  • water, as needed to form paste
  • 2½ tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1.25 kg skin-on chicken legs, thighs or both, patted dry
  • 2 cups coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • sliced limes, for garnish
  1. In a food processor, blitz the coriander seeds until finely ground.
  2. Add chopped chilli, shallots, garlic, galangal and ginger and process to a smooth paste, adding a tablespoon or so of water if needed. (see notes)
  3. Heat peanut oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. When oil is just hot enough to gently sizzle a pinch of paste, add all ot the paste and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 5 minutes. (If necessary reduce the pot heat to prevent browning)
  4. Using a rolling pin crush the lemongrass stalk lighly until just pliable. Tie into a knot.
  5. Add the knotted lemongrass, cinnamon sticks and kaffir lime leaves to the pot and cook for one minute more, until the cinnamon is fragrant.
  6. Scrape paste to one side and add chicken to pot. Raise heat and brown chicken lightly on both sides, about 10 minutes total.
  7. Add 1 cup coconut milk, 1¼ cups water and salt, stirring well and scraping off the browned bits from the bottom of pot.
  8. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered 40 - 50 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened. Do not boil.
  9. Add remaining cup of coconut milk and heat through. Adjust salt according to taste.
  10. Serve with opor telur - (hard-boiled eggs in coconut milk)
The paste ingredients can also be chopped finely, then worked into a paste with a mortar and pestle.

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