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Ayam Bakar (Indonesian Grilled Chicken)

Posting Date: 06/22/20

Ayam Bakar (Indonesian Grilled Chicken)

Ayam Bakar (Indonesian Grilled Chicken) has several versions in Indonesia. Each region has its own version. Ayam Bakar Solo from Solo is sweeter than other regions while Ayam Bakar Padang from Padang is spicier. The spices used could also be different from region to region. Some families also have their own family recipe. I use my mom's recipe here. It is normally served with steamed rice, Nasi Uduk (Rice Cooked in Coconut Milk), or Nasi Kuning (Indonesian Yellow Rice). In addition to rice, some people serve it with slices of cucumber and tomato and chili paste.

The recipe serves 3-4 people.


  • 8 chicken drumsticks. You could use other parts of the chicken if preferred.
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
  • For spice paste: 6 small or 2 large size shallots, quartered
  • For spice paste: 5 cloves of garlic, halved
  • For spice paste: 1" fresh ginger, sliced
  • For spice paste: 1.5 tablespoons sambal oelek. If you have low tolerance to heat, you can use less sambal oelek. However, I find the 1.5 tablespoons have almost no heat at all with the chicken since it is diluted with the water during cooking. Instead of sambal oelek, you can use 3 red chili peppers if you can find in the store.
  • For spice paste: 4 candlenuts, sliced in half. Skip if you are allergic to peanuts. If you cannot find candlenuts, you can substitute with macadamia nuts.
  • 500 ml water
  • 2 lemongrass, white part smashed with the back of the knife and green part discarded
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate. You can find tamarind concentrate in Asian stores. If you cannot find tamarind concentrate, use tamarind pulp that can be found in Asian stores. Soak about 1 teaspoon of tamrind pulp in 1 tablespoon of boiling water to soften it. Once it is soften, strain it and use the juice. If you cannot find neither, you can substitute with 2 teaspoon fresh lime juice.
  • Optional: For serving: lime wedges
  • Optional: For serving: slices of cucumber
  • Optional: For serving: slices of tomatoes
  • Optional: For serving: sambal oelek if you like it hot. Drizzle sambal oelek with sweet soy sauce to add some sweetness. You may use other chili paste you like.


  1. Place chicken drumstikcs in a ziploc bag. Add lime juice and salt into the bag. Close the bag and move the drumsticks inside the bag so that they are coated with the lime juice and salt. Leave the bag in the fridge for at least 30 min.
  2. In the meantime, place shallots, garlic, ginger, sambal oelek, and candlenuts into a food processor. Process until they become smooth paste.
  3. Once the chicken has been marinated for at least 30 min, drain the chicken. Using a skewer or toothpick, poke each drumstick at several locations on each side. This will help the chicken to absorb the spices.
  4. Put 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a pot that is big enough for the chicken. Heat the oil over medium high heat. Add spice paste into the pot once the oil is hot. Saute until it becomes aromatic. Add lemongrass and bay leaves. Saute for 1.5 min. Add the drumstcks into the pot. Stir fry the drumsticks so that they are evenly coated with the spices. Cook until they becomes slightly brown. Add water, salt, sweet soy sauce, and tamarind concentrate into the pot. Make sure the chicken is fully submerged in liquid. Otherwise, you may add a little bit more water but do not add too much water because it will dilute the spices too much. Stir to mix and cook until the chicken is fully cooked (internal tempeature at the thickess part of the drumstick should be 180 deg F). Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Drain the chicken. You can either use a BBQ or a broiler oven to grill the chicken. If using a BBQ, make sure you clean the grates and oil the grates after cleaning them. Grill the chicken on the BBQ until it becomes brown. Turn it over to cook other sides so that all sides are brown. If using oven, move the top rack to the middle and turn it to broil at high. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with Al foil for easy cleaning. Spray the Al foil with oil to prevent sticking. Place the chicken on the baking sheet. Broil the chicken until it is brown. Once the top side is brown, turn it over to broil the other sides. Once all the sides are brown, take the baking sheet out.
  5. Serve the chicken with warm rice, lime wedges, slices of cucumber and tomato, and sambal oelek drizzled with sweet soy sauce to add some sweetness.

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